Congressional representatives from Maryland and Virginia reaped almost $3 million from political action committees in last fall's election, accounting for more than 32 percent of their campaign budgets, according to figures released this month by the Federal Election Commission.
Virginia Republican Sen. Paul S. Trible's PAC tally of $652,551 gives him a ranking of seventh out of 283 senatorial candidates in PAC receipts last fall. Most of Trible's PAC gifts came from organizations affiliated with corporations. Trible's biggest single source of PAC support was the National Rifle Association, whose PAC contributed $4,950 directly to his campaign and spent another $14,201 on his behalf.
Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Maryland) garnered $463,287 from PACs, most of it from labor unions. That was considerably less than the $683,080 the National Conservative Political Action Committee alone spent in an attempt to defeat him at the polls.
Charts listing the PACs, the local candidates they supported, and the amounts they contributed are on Page B8.
Among area congressmen, Northern Virginia's two Republican representatives were the leading beneficiaries of PAC gifts. Rep. Stanford E. Parris, who won a hard-fought race by one percentage point, pulled in $275,983, or almost three times the average amount in PAC contributions received by House members across the country. Rep. Frank R. Wolf attracted $222,765, most of it coming from PACs affiliated with corporations and professional organizations.
"The PACs go where the fight is," said Parris' admnistrative assistant, Dick Leggitt. "And if the race is tough, they're in there."
In Virginia, which has a "Right to Work" law, corporate PACs gave $6.54 to members of Congress for every dollar contributed by labor union PACs. In Maryland labor PACs gave $3.30 for every dollar given by corporate PACs. In both states, a large segment of officeholders' PAC money--42 percent--came from groups that fell into neither the labor nor the corporate PAC camp.
This 42 percent included contributions from trade, membership and health groups such as the Association of Retired Federal Employees, the Virginia Medical PAC, and BUILD, the PAC of the National Association of Home Builders. Also included were such ideological groups as NCPAC and the Friends of Family Planning, and groups affiliated with cooperatives, such as the Associated Milk Producers' Committee for Thorough Agricultural Political Education. A total of $1.1 million was contributed by these diverse groups to members of Congress in Maryland and Virginia.
The Federal Election Commission's figures, incorporated in a five-volume interim final report on last fall's elections, underscore the growing influence of PACs in federal elections. PACs contributed $83.1 million to influence the 1982 federal races in all 50 states, or more than double what they had spent four years earlier.
The number of PACs also has grown steadily, from 608 in 1974 to more than 3,300 last year. PAC contributors to local officeholders range from Virginia bankers to the AFL-CIO to Martin Marietta Corp, a Bethesda-based aircraft company.
Federal election laws prohibit corporations and labor unions from contributing directly to candidates and limit individual contributions to $1,000. PACs sponsored by corporations and labor unions may contribute up to $5,000 to each candidate for each primary and general election. They also may spend an unlimited amount on a candidate's behalf. Their funds are gathered through the contributions of their memberships.
"We made a concerted effort to raise PAC money," said Trible campaign manager Judy Peachee, who had one staff member working full-time soliciting PAC contributions. "PACs are very important. A phone call to a PAC can produce $5,000, whereas a phone call to an individual can only produce $1,000."
Corporate PACs in Maryland and Virginia spent more than three-quarters of a million dollars to influence elections. About one-eighth of that was spent on candidates in the region, with the rest going to federal candidates across the country.
Philip Morris, the Virginia tobacco company, ranked tenth among the nation's top corporate PAC givers, contributing $188,327 to all federal campaigns. Among area corporate PACs, however, BDM International, Inc. of McLean spent the most to influence elections in Maryland and Virginia. The PAC sponsored by BDM, a defense-oriented think tank that employs 2,600 people, contributed $18,400 to area campaigns. Most of that was given to Republicans, and almost a third of it went to Trible.
Trible's PAC contributions accounted for $652,551, or 29.3 percent of his campaign receipts. Twelve other congressional representatives reported that PAC contributions to their campaigns accounted for less than 40 percent of their campaign funds.
"We are not subject to PAC influence, because we can tell them any time that if there's any strings attached you can take your money and take a walk," said Parris' Leggitt, whose boss raised 36.6 percent of his campaign funds from PACs.
National labor PACs contributed $651,136 to House and Senate members from Maryland and Virginia, with more than 80 percent of that money going to Democratic candidates in Maryland. Four area members of Congress reported receiving more than 50 percent of their campaign funds from PACs: Reps. Roy Dyson (D-Maryland), with 65.6 per cent; Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Maryland0, with 63.1 percent; Dan Daniel (D-Virginia), with 62.7 percent; and Beverly B. Byron (D-Maryland), with 50.1 percent.
Of the four, Dyson and Mikulski received the bulk of their PAC funds from labor-affiliated groups, while corporate PAC funds comprised the bulk of Daniel's and Byron's PAC receipts.
"What you have to remember is that PACs are people, and the people were very supportive of Roy Dyson." said Tony M. Pappas, Dyson's administrative assistant. "If you have all the watermen in your district send you $100 each, then are you beholden to the watermen to the exclusion of the business people? Not at all."
Nationally, members of the House raised an average of 34.2 percent of their campaign funds from PACs, while the average for senators was 21.8 percent.
The House race that drew the most PAC money was Northern Virginia's 8th District contest between Parris and former Rep. Herbert H. Harris, a cliff-hanger of a battle between two longtime foes. Parris drew $275,983 in mostly corporate PAC contributions, while Harris garnered $196,247, most of it from labor PACs.
Northern Virginia's hotly contested 10th Congressional District race between Wolf and Ira M. Lechner also drew heavily from PACS. Wolf's PAC contributions amounted to $222,765, most of it from corporate groups, while Lechner's $158,617 in PAC contributions was pulled chiefly from labor-affiliated PACs.