Super PACs (short for "Super Political Action Committees") were referred to by the Washington Post's "Post Politics" blog as "new political weapons" that "allow independent groups to both raise and spend money at a pace that threatens to eclipse the efforts of political parties." By September 28, 2010, the committees were being registered with the Federal Elections Commission at the rate of almost one per day. The are "quickly becoming the new model for election spending by interest groups, according to activists, campaign-finance lawyers and disclosure records," says the Post. Super-PACs were made possible in part due to the January, 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case, which gave corporations the right to pour unlimited funds into influencing American elections. The groups are called super PACs because, unlike regular political action committees, they are not subject to limits on how much money they can raise or spend, and unlike some other types of committees, super PACs can be explicit in urging voters to support or oppose a candidate in an election.
According to OpenSecrets, while super PACs are subject to the condition that they must disclose their donors, Federal Election Commission rules allow super PACs to legally avoid disclosing individual donors by attributing donations to certain nonprofit organizations that are not required by law to reveal their donors, such as attributing all or nearly all of super PAC contributions to nonprofit organizations organized with the Internal Revenue Service under section 501(c)(4) or section 501(c)(6) of the U.S. tax code.
- Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam New 'Super Pacs' bringing millions into campaigns, Washington Post "Post Politics," September 28, 2010
- Kathleen Ronayne, "Some Super PACs Reveal Barest of Details About Funders" OpenSecrets, June 22, 2011.