In the 2012 election cycle, much attention has been focused on Super PACs, a type of political action committee made possible by the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. Super PACs helped Romney win Florida by burying Gingrich in negative ads, may help Barack Obama win re-election, and have been satire fodder for Comedy Central.
However, a new type of PAC, called a “hybrid PAC“, could prove even more influential than Super PACs. A hybrid PAC combines the features of Super PACs with good old-fashioned campaign donations. Hybrid PACs are free to raise unlimited amounts of money to support a candidate or candidates, but they can also donate limited amounts of money directly to a candidate or candidates’ campaign, provided those accounts are segregated.
Hybrid PACs developed out of another campaign finance court case, Carey v. FEC, heard by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia last August. The court’s ruling basically set up the guidelines that all hybrid PACs must follow.
While slow to grow in the months immediately following the decision, they have exploded recently. Thirteen hybrid PACs were founded in the five months following the court case, but 10 have already sprung up since mid-January.
Whether you think this is a free speech issue, or just another attempt for the rich and powerful to throw their money around for political gain, probably depends on your point of view on Super PACs in the first place. What do you think? Should these organizations be allowed to donate to candidates and spend unlimited amounts of separate money to support them, or is this unfair to the political process? Let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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