Who the PACs are Supporting in the 2014 RI Governor’s Race
Monday, February 10, 2014
With the 2014 elections nine months away, GoLocal took a look at the role of PAC contributions in the Rhode Island gubernatorial candidates' campaign efforts during 2013 -- which ranged from no PAC backing of Republican candidate Ken Block or recently declared Democratic candidate Clay Pell, to tens of thousands of dollars in PAC giving to Angel Taveras and Gina Raimondo.
See Which PACs are Giving to Which Candidates -- and How Much -- BELOW
"Under Rhode Island law PACs can't give that much money in donations to a single candidate, so it's more about bringing their supporters along to turn out for the candidate of their choice," said John Marion with Common Cause.
Over the past year, Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung has received over $8,000 in PAC donations. Democratic candidates Angel Taveras and Gina Raimondo have claimed approximately $17,550 and $21,500 in PAC money, respectively, on campaign finance filings.
PACs and Super PACs
Marion spoke to the role of PACs -- and Super PACs -- in campaign finance.
"While we haven't studied the change in PACs here in Rhode Island specifically, very clearly the trend in elections nationally has been from direct contributions to candidates by individuals and PACs to independent spending on behalf of, or against, candidates by third party organizations such as Super PACs," said Marion. "That trend accelerated drastically after the Citizens United decision and the subsequent SpeechNow vs. FEC decision that allowed unlimited contributions to such third party groups.
Israel started by explaining the difference between PACs -- and Super PACs. "Under the campaign finance laws employees of a company, members of a union or any other individuals are allowed to make contributions to registered political action committees which will then distribute funding to candidates sharing their views," said Israel. "In the case of Super PACs, they must expend the funds supporting candidates sharing their views without any “communication” between that PAC and the candidates or their campaign."
Israel continued, "Because of the impact of Citizen’s United, Super PACs with unlimited donations became much more visible than traditional PACs. Less attention was paid to regular PACs, but they remain a major force, particularly for incumbents. On a daily basis in Washington, DC, multiple PAC fundraising events are being held adding needed dollars to the war chests required to seek re-election. While more attention has been focused on the influence of multimillionaires such as Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers and former New York City Mayor Bloomberg in funding of those Super PACs and outside donations, the status quo remains."
Impact of Special Interest Money -- and Support -- on Races
"While there has been greater awareness of the Super PACs’ role (thank you Steven Colbert!), here too the results have been minimal," said Israel. "Only one major race (the senatorial in Massachusetts) has been able to successfully get the candidates to neutralize the Super PAC funding by pledging that any amount spent by a Super PAC in support of their campaign would be neutralized. More recent efforts to get a similar agreement in other races have failed."
Israel spoke to the nature of the PAC groups' support of a candidate as being more than just a money issue.
"In Rhode Island the value of the issue will be dependent on who the final candidates are and how vulnerable their funding sources appear to make them. Will Raimondo appear to be beholden to Wall Street, Taveras to labor, Pell to leftwing liberals and Fung or Block to rightwing ideologues and billionaires?," asked Israel. "Whether the pledge is applied to the primary, general election, or both may also be a factor."
See how much candidates took in from PAC contributions during 2013 BELOW.
Related Slideshow: PAC Spending in the 2014 Rhode Island Governor’s Race
With Election Day now just months away, GoLocal took a look at PAC spending in the Rhode Island gubernatorial campaigns.
Who is giving to who -- and how much? And what's worth more, the money or the grassroots support?
Below is look at recorded PAC giving by the candidates in their campaign finance reports for the 2013 calendar year, by quarter. Candidate Todd Giroux has an affadavit for an annual filing exemption.
Gina Raimondo - Q1 2013
PAC money received: $7,000
Gina Raimondo - Q2 2013
PAC money received: $4,400
Gina Raimondo - Q4 2013
PAC money received: $6,950
Angel Taveras - Q1 2013
PAC money received: $3,600
Angel Taveras - Q2 2013
PAC money received: $6,550
Angel Taveras - Q4 2013
PAC money received: $6,100
Allan Fung -- Q1 2013
PAC money received: $1,550*
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