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Corporate PACs Cling to Relevance Amid Rise of Progressives Refusing Big Business Donations

A pro-corporate PAC lobbying group "clearly didn't get the resounding message that the midterm election sent"

Thirty-five incoming members of Congress pledged not to accept corporate PAC money. (Photo: Getty)

The rise of progressive lawmakers who have refused to accept corporate political action committe (PAC) money has not gone unnoticed by big business, and corporate interests are mobilizing to save the outsized influence they've had on Washington, especially since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010.

According to the Huffington Post, which obtained a PowerPoint presentation from a biennial conference held earlier this month by the National Association of Business Political Action Committees (NABPAC), the group presented a blueprint for "challenging the narrative" about corporations' toxic hold on American lawmakers—by combating anti-PAC rhetoric and gaining buy-in from politicians and political journalists who can help disseminate PAC-friendly views.

Along with several powerful Republicans, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) were named by the group as potential "champions" for the cause.


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As Politico reported earlier this month, NABPAC is also intent on lobbying for an increase in PAC campaign contribution limits from $5,000 to $10,000. 

"I'm not sure NABPAC has talked to anyone outside of D.C. if they think the problem is that we don't have enough money in politics," Anne Feldman, a spokeswoman for End Citizens United, told the Huffington Post.

In its presentation, NABPAC sought to pit political action committees against unregulated Super PACS, which can accept unlimited donations—arguing that PAC money is "the cleanest money in politics."

The statement blatantly ignored the recent success of progressive candidates who have pledged to take no corporate PAC money for their campaigns—including Reps.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Thirty-five new members of the House won their elections after refusing such donations, as well as 12 incumbent lawmakers.

"There is wide agreement that we need more disclosure, but to suggest that corporate PACs are the antidote is laughable," Feldman told the Huffington Post. 

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