10 of the Biggest Political Action Committees

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Political-action committees spent half a billion dollars trying to influence the outcomes of the most recent election, in 2014. That includes races for the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. The largest PAC, the National Association of Realtors, spent nearly $4 million on the election; that money was nearly divided between Republican candidates and Democratic candidates.

The role of political action committees is, of course, to do just that: elect and defeat candidates. They do so by raising "hard" money and spending directly to influence specific taxes. There are limits on how much money an individual can contribute to a PAC and on how much a PAC can contribute to a candidate or a party. PACs must register with the Federal Election Commission.

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National Association of Realtors

The National Association of Realtors political action committee is consistently the largest contributor to political candidates at the federal level. In the 2014 mid-term election, it spent $3.8 million, leaning slightly to the right. It spent 52 percent of its money on Republican candidates and 48 percent on Democrats.

The PAC, founded in 1969, supports "pro-Realtor" candidates, according to its website. 

"The purpose of RPAC is clear: Realtors raise and spend money to elect candidates who understand and support their interests. The money to accomplish this comes from voluntary contributions made by Realtors. These are not members’ dues; this is money given freely by Realtors in recognition of how important campaign fundraising is to the political process. RPAC doesn’t buy votes. RPAC enables Realtors to support candidates that support the issues that are important to their profession and livelihood."
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National Beer Wholesalers Association

The National Beer Wholesalers Association PAC spent $3.2 million in the 2014 campaign. Most of the money went to Republican candidates.
From the Association website: "The NBWA PAC uses its resources to help elect and re-elect pro-beer distributor, pro-small business candidates."

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Honeywell International

The Honeywell International PAC spent nearly $3 million in the 2014 election, mostly on Republican candidates. Honeywell makes aerospace and military products. Its political-action committee says its "engagement in the political process is critical" to the company's success.

"Our future growth depends on forward-thinking legislation and regulation that makes society safer and more energy efficient and improves public infrastructure. For example, nearly 50 percent of our products are linked to energy efficiency. In fact, if our existing technologies were widely adopted today, energy demand in the U.S. could be reduced by 20-25 percent."
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National Auto Dealers Association

The National Auto Dealers Association PAC spent nearly $2.8 million in the 2014 campaign. The PAC "represents the interests of all franchised dealers of new cars and trucks by supporting pro-dealer congressional candidates of both political parties." 

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Lockheed Martin

A political-action committee run by the aerospace and military contractor Lockheed Martin spent more than $2.6 million in 2014. Their site says it is "committed to participating in the political and public policy process in a responsible and ethical way that serves the best interests of our stockholders and customers. We operate in the highly regulated global security industry, and our operations are affected by the actions of elected and appointed officials at many levels of government." 

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American Bankers Association

The American Bankers Association PAC spent more than $2.5 million in the 2014 campaign. BankPac, the industry's largest political action committee, contributed mostly to Republicans.

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The telecommunications company AT&T spent more than $2.5 million in the 2014 election trying to "help elect candidates whose views and positions are good for AT&T, our industry, and ultimately the free-market economy," according to a corporate statement on campaign contributions. 

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Credit Union National Association

The Credit Union National Association PAC spent about $2.5 million in the 2014 campaign. It is the among the largest trade associations PACs by contributions to federal candidates.

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International Union of Operating Engineers

The International Union of Operating Engineers PAC spent $2.5 million in the 2014 campaign. The PAC supports candidates who fall in line with its positions on infrastructure spending and offering prevailing wages, boosting worker Safety.

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International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC spent $2.4 in the 2014 campaign.

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Gill, Kathy. "10 of the Biggest Political Action Committees." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/biggest-political-action-committees-3367778. Gill, Kathy. (2020, August 28). 10 of the Biggest Political Action Committees. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/biggest-political-action-committees-3367778 Gill, Kathy. "10 of the Biggest Political Action Committees." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/biggest-political-action-committees-3367778 (accessed May 30, 2023).