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The Rise of Political Action CommitteesInterest Group Electioneering and the Transformation of American Politics$
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Emily J. Charnock

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190075514

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190075514.001.0001

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“Interests” and Elections

“Interests” and Elections

(p.14) 1 “Interests” and Elections
The Rise of Political Action Committees

Emily J. Charnock

Oxford University Press

This empirical chapter draws on a series of congressional investigations into election campaigns and lobbying conducted between 1912 and 1957 (plus additional data on the early 1960s) to identify interest groups and related organizations—including early PACs—that participated in elections during this period. The major groups so identified—primarily business organizations, labor unions, and ideological groups—form the spine of the narrative throughout the book. This chapter highlights changes in their major organizational features and electoral practices over time. Furthermore, it explores the controversies surrounding both political parties and “special interests” in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly concerning the influx of money into election campaigns, which prompted these congressional investigations in the first place. It also offers an overview of campaign finance legislation and reforms that Congress passed in response.

Keywords:   PACs, parties, interest groups, special interests, election campaigns, campaign finance, Progressive Era, Congress, electioneering, lobbying

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