J’Accuse…! Sunlight’s PAC Name Generator Inspires Real PACs
Exactly one year ago the Sunlight Foundation unveiled our Political Action Committee (PAC) Name Generator and today we revisit it with some shocking revelations. The project showcased the absurdity of the naming culture for these political funds. The agreeable names shield them from scrutiny – who isn’t in favor of common sense, truth or America? As if our anemic disclosure laws and the impotent Federal Election Commission do not allow for enough obfuscation!
It was an enormously fun project to work on and we weren’t the only ones who enjoyed playing with it – we ended up getting hundreds of thousands of visitors. As the anniversary approached we decided to research if any actual PACs had adopted one of the meaningless, random names we created. So we ran every possible result from our generator against the list of all 41,203 committees scraped from the Center for Responsive Politics.
At first this seemed a rather silly exercise because our beloved generator includes some rather unlikely results such as “Honest Workers for Snow Days,” “Taxpayers for Twirling Towards Freedom” and the perfectly concise “Just Another Really Really Well Funded Grassroots Organization for Short, Pithy and Informative Names for Political Action Committees.”
Yet, to our surprise, we found dozens of matches. In fact, based on filing at the FEC, many of these all-American groups were created after we launched our PAC Name Generator! To the right of this text you’ll see screenshots of their official filing documents with the date highlighted – each organization’s name is also a possible result from the generator. To anyone who wants to check our work or happens to enjoy scrolling, here are all possible name generator results.
A tool that we created to shed light on how these organizations cower behind a circus of patriotic gobbledygook is fueling the creation of even more murky committee names! What hath we wrought!
Special thanks to Ethan Phelps-Goodman for pulling the real committee names and to Jeremy Carbaugh for matching them up with fake names. Below is the widget and embed code for those who wish to provide inspiration to the unimaginative PAC treasurers around the country: