political action committee


political action committee
PAC PAC (p[a^]k), n. [Acronynm from Political Action Committee.] (Politics) A {political action committee}, a committee formed by an organization or special-interest group to raise money to support candidates for office or to influence legislation. A PAC provides a legal means for corporations in the U. S. to support political candidates even when direct contributions from corporations to candidates is forbidden by law. In theory, the corporation may not itself contribute to a PAC, but may pay the expenses of raising money from individuals. PACs may also be formed by organizations other than commercial corporations, such as trade associations. [Acronym, U. S.]

Note: PACs became popular in the 1970's after campaign finance reform laws put limits on the amount of money which an individual can contribute to each candidate for public office. In addition to simply supporting candidates with specific viewpoints, the unstated purpose of PACs is to make politicians aware of their viewpoints, by aggregating sums of money into significant single donations. This latter effect has aroused criticism of PACs from reformers who feel that large donations bias the political process. [PJC]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.