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Super PAC

The Meaning: A political action committee (PAC) that can raise unlimited money from corporations, unions, and individuals to be used on items such as TV and radio ads and direct mailings. They differ from traditional PACs, which must adhere to numerous federal regulations and have limits on donation amounts. Super PACs cannot make direct contributions to candidates or coordinate messaging or strategy with campaign officials.

History: The creation of Super PACs was a game changer for federal campaigns. With no limits on contributions, corporations and unions can dominate TV and radio ads for or against a particular candidate. The creation of Super PACs resulted from the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (FEC), which ruled that the FEC could not prohibit the amount corporations and unions can raise for independent federal campaign expenditures. Politicocredits Eliza Newlin Carney, a Roll Call reporter, for dubbing the term “Super PAC” on June 26, 2010. According to Opensecrets.org, in 2016, 2,393 Super PACs raised more than $1.7 billion dollars and spent more than $1 billion during the election cycle. See more about outside spending by Super PACs here.