National government decisions often affect Texas-based interest groups. Likewise, many Texas interests reach beyond state borders. Consequently many Texas-based interest groups participate in national as well as state politics. Financial activities in support of national political parties or candidates for federal office shed some light on the interests involved and the nature of their involvement. This feature examines the flow of soft money and political action committee money from Texas to Washington. Let's first set some terms.
Soft money refers to funds raised in unlimited amounts by national party organizations outside the limits and restrictions of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Though now banned, national parties used soft money through 2002 to pay for "party building" activities in state and local elections and to help defray party organizational overhead, e.g., administrative costs and fundraising expenses.
A political action committee (PAC) is an entity other than a political party regulated under federal and state law that raises and spends money to elect or defeat candidates. Compared with the maximum individual contribution of $2,000, PACs qualified and registered to participate in federal elections may contribute up to $5,000 per candidate per election.Back