In the 6 weeks following an advisory opinion issued by the Federal Elections Commission allowing some political organizations—called independent expenditure-only PACs—to receive unlimited contributions from corporations and labor unions, 23 groups have registered as such. The FEC is anticipating 67 more to do so as well. To see both FEC lists click here.
Sunlight first reported on these organizations when a group called the League of Conservation Voters Fund intervened in the Colorado primary, running a phone bank to support Sen. Michael Bennet.
These groups are created for the sole pupose of making independent expenditures to influence elections and have the ability to receive unlimited contributions–including from corporations and labor unions. The groups are similar to nonprofit 527 groups, which could also receive unlimited contributions, but differ in that IE-only committees can expressly advocate the election or defeat of a federal candidate. In other words, IE-only committees can explicitly say "Vote for Joe" in ads, while 527s can only say things along the lines of "Joe is an Excellent Candidate."
The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group has been following these IE-only PACs and monitoring what candidates they are supporting with their money. Rep Kendrick Meek of Florida won the state's democratic Senate primary in August with help from an independent Group called Florida is Not For Sale. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado also won his state's primary after a group spent $50,000 to make phone calls to voters soliciting support of the democratic candidtate.
The Center for Public Integrity released a piece today highlighting the fact that SpeechNow.org has not registered as an independent expenditure only committee with the Federal Election Commission, after paving the way for at least 23 other groups to do so over the last month.