Buddy-PACs Reveal Motives in Their Names

The latest trend in campaign-finance — super-political action committees that serve as a moneyed companion to a congressional candidate’s campaign — has spawned some inventive naming.

Two of the most evocative: the Crush Graham Cracker PAC and If He Votes Like That In Salem Imagine What He’ll Do In Congress.

They’re among the 40 or so super-PACs that appear to be dedicated to a single candidate in the 2014 congressional elections. Eight of the top 12 most competitive Senate races are already buzzing with activity by these kinds of groups. And each week new buddy-PACs — campaign finance watchdog Paul S. Ryan calls them “shadow campaigns” — are registering with the Federal Election Commission.

Their purpose: Tap wealthy donors, often pals or relatives of a candidate, for an unlimited stream of election cash. Super-PACs are unbound by the candidate’s campaign-finance limit of $2,600 per election.

A Bloomberg News story this morning identified today’s congressional primary election in Florida as Exhibit A of the phenomenon. Two of Republican Paige Kreegel’s childhood friends created a $1 million super-PAC to carry his message while Kreegel’s own campaign struggled to raise money.

That group name, Values Are Vital, hints at the indispensable role that Kreegel said it played in keeping the Republican field to three candidates.

Many of the candidate-specific PAC names contain a clue as to their mission. A trio of Democratic strategist-run groups in key Senate races plays up home-state pride:

Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are aided by the Delta Diamond PAC and Blue Pelican PAC, respectively. And Senator Kay Hagan will get an assist from the Wolfheel PAC — a sporty amalgamation of the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

Other names are even more direct.

The Crush Graham Cracker PAC is, unsurprisingly, anti-Senator Lindsey Graham. One of the group’s main activities last fall was to “sticker bomb” a college football game with “Defeat Lindsey Graham” messages.  At the time, the South Carolina Republican was under threat of a competitive primary election.

The creatively wordy If He Votes Like That In Salem Imagine What He’ll Do In Congress PAC opposes Jason Conger, an Oregon state representative seeking a U.S. Senate seat. He’s in a competitive Republican primary race against Monica Wehby.

The PAC, Conger said in a press release, is funded in part by Wehby’s boyfriend, lumber executive Andrew Miller.

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