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Political Action Committees (PACs)

Political action committees (PACs) are lawful mechanisms established to raise and pool political contributions from individuals and then channel that money to political candidates. Their operations are based on the First Amendment values of both freedom of speech and freedom of association. Though some critics of political money have suggested that PACs be outlawed, no serious proposal has been made, and such a proposal would in any case be of dubious constitutionality. This entry examines the history of PACs, types of PACs, their operation and structure, and their negative and positive impacts.

Brief History of PACs

Labor unions were the first primary sponsors and promoters of PACs, and the largest early PAC was the American Federation of Labor—Congress of Industrial Organizations’ Committee on Political Education. Corporations learned ...

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