SPENDING by special-interest groups in federal campaigns in 1989-90 fell 2 percent while fund-raising declined 3 percent, the Federal Election Commission said Saturday. It was the first such drop in more than a decade. The FEC study found that Democrats and incumbents receive most of the contributions.
Political-action committees (PACs), which numbered 4,681, raised $372.35 million and spent $358.08 million from January 1989 through last November's election. The sharpest drop was posted by committees without a sponsor, the agency said.
Total PAC spending reached a record $364.2 million in 1987-88 and fund-raising peaked at $384.6 million. At the beginning of the decade, spending totaled $131.2 million while fund-raising was $137.7 million.
Labor PACs posted a 13 percent gain in fund-raising and corporate PACs showed a 10 percent rise.
Nonaffiliated PACs, including organizations formed, sometimes, for a specific cause or to represent a specific issue, posted a 32 percent drop.
"The decrease in spending occurred solely in the nonconnected category," the commission said.
The FEC report, based on financial disclosure reports filed by PACs and candidates for federal office, showed incumbents got 79 percent of the cash; open seats and challengers got 10 percent each. Democrats received 62 percent of PAC cash while Republicans collected 38 percent.
The report showed corporate PACs dominated fund-raising and spending during the 1989-90 election period, collecting $106.3 million and spending $100.8 million. By comparison, labor committees raised $88.9 million and spent $84.6 million.
Corporations favored Republicans, shelling out $30.6 million to all Republican candidates compared with $27.5 million for all Democratic candidates.
Labor organizations overwhelmingly favored Democrats, providing $32 million to all Democrats compared with $2.4 million to all Republicans.
The report showed the Democratic Republican Independent Voter Education Committee, which was formed by the Teamsters union, raised the most PAC cash, $10.52 million, followed by the American Medical Association at $5.7 million, and the National Association of Realtors, which collected $5.3 million.
Biggest spenders include the Teamsters' DRIVE committee, $10.5 million; the Realtors, $5.4 million; and Voter Guide, $5.1 million. The International Longshoreman's PAC had the most money on hand, $3.8 million.