Growing PAC-men

'74 '76 '78 '80 '81 Corporate 89 433 784 1,106 1,327 Labor 201 246 217 255 318 Trade/ membership 318 452 451 542 608 Ideological - - 165 312 539 Cooperative - - 12 23 41 Corp. w/no stock - - 24 41 68 TOTAL 608 1,131 1,653 2,279 2,901

In 1978, political action committees (PACs) gave $35 million to congressional candidates; in 1980 they gave $55 million, and this year contributions are expected to exceed $100 million.

Many observers say the PAC explosion is still in its early stages. Yet the number of PACs is five times as great as in 1974, just prior to the Federal Election Campaign Act's 1974 amendments, which opened the door to increased PAC activity. Yearly increases have been about 21 percent, with the exception of 1979-80, when growth was 28 percent. The most dramatic increase, between 1974 and '76, was 88 percent.

PAC money in 1978 House elections alone totaled $25 million -- an increase of 70 percent over 1976 and an increase of more than 200 percent over 1974. The number of House candidates receiving over $50,000 more than tripled from 1976 to 1978 -- from 57 candidates to 176 -- including 45 of the 77 freshmen members. Seventy-eight members of the House received 40 percent more of their total contributions from PACs during the 1974 elections. By 1978 the number was 136.

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