Heavy political spending by PACs is likely to continue in '84 election
Washington — NCPAC, for now, is free to be NCPAC. As a result of a Supreme Court action Monday, the controversial National Political Conservative Action Committee will likely be able to spend all the money it wants to support the President's reelection campaign.
''This strikes us as a very sizable victory,'' says NCPAC head Terry Dolan. ''Since organized labor is going to spend 20, 30, 100 million dollars (in support of Democrats), permitting us to spend 5 or 10 million dollars is giving some deference to the Constitution.''
At issue are ''independent expenditures'' - funds spent on behalf of presidential candidates without the candidate's knowledge. Current law limits groups to $1,000 in such spending per candidate, per general election. But the law has been widely ignored, since court rulings have long made it unenforceable.
NCPAC, for instance, made some $2 million in independent expenditures for Reagan in 1980. For this, it and other conservative groups were sued by the Democrats and the Federal Election Commission. The Supreme Court has agreed to review the case - but probably not until after the November election. NCPAC can thus spend freely in the current campaign.
The $1,000 limit, Mr. Dolan insisted at a reporters' breakfast, is an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech. He says NCPAC is gearing up to spend upward of $9 million in the upcoming campaign - $5 million to $6 million in support of Mr. Reagan, ''and about $2 million in our anti-Mondale campaign.'' Another $500,000 or so will go in support of individual House and Senate candidates.
In the past, NCPAC has gained attention by targeting liberal politicians it wants to defeat, then flooding their districts or states with advertising that is certainly not subtle. Dolan says that this year his political action committee has compiled no such ''hit list.''
''The problem is that there are no high-visibility liberal politicians'' that are vulnerable, he says. For instance, no strong Republican ever emerged to challenge House majority leader Jim Wright (D) of Texas, who Dolan feels was defeatable. But overall, NCPAC will this year be ''involved'' in some 200 House and Senate races.
NCPAC is gearing up for a strenuous effort in the presidential campaign despite the fact that Dolan, along with many conservatives, feels President Reagan has been co-opted by the Washington establishment. For example, he does not approve at all of the President's upcoming trip to China. ''I see very little difference between the society China has and the type of society Hitler had,'' Dolan says. ''We don't think any President should be toasting communist dictators.''