Sixteen candidates for 34 Senate seats raised from one-quarter to two-thirds of their campaign contributions from political action committees during the 18-month period ended June 30, according to a study released yesterday by Common Cause.
The study, based on Federal Election Commission data, also showed that 25 Senate candidates, most of them incumbents, received at least $100,000 each from corporate, union, trade-association and other PACs.
Common Cause and 38 percent of the PAC money in its study came from corporate PACs, compared with 22 percent for union PACS and 40 percent for trade, professional and other units.
The FEC, in a related development, said that in the three-month period also ended June 30, PACs gave $10,678,742 to federal candidates, for a total of $24,954,991 since Jan. 1, 1979.
Of the total, corporate PACs accounted for $9,571,220, more than half again as much as labor's $6,033,052. Trade and professional PACs gave $7,035,196, agricultural and other cooperative units $700,579, and law-firm and other non-stock corporations $218,598.
An additional heavy outpouring of PAC contributions is under way in what is expected to be their largest role ever in House and Senate campaigns. But data on these contributions won't be available until after Oct. 15, when candidate filings must be made for July, August and September.
Through PACs, interest groups of all kinds have been playing a growing role in elections, causing a continuing controversy about whether tighter restraints should be put on them by Congress.
Last year, the House passed a bill to limit House candidates to PAC contributions of $70,000 per election, with no PAC allowed to give a candidate more than $6,000 for his primary and general election races combined. cSolid Republican opposition in the Senate, however, has caused the bill to languish there.
The Senate candidate relying most heavily on PAC money was Rep. Mark Andrews (R-N.D.). Of total contributions of $61,717 made to his campaign between Jan. 1, 1979, and June 30, 1980, $41,650 -- 67.5 percent -- came from PACs, the Common Cause study found.
Others getting at least 25 percent of their total contributions from PACs during the same period:
Sen. Warren G. Magnuson (D-Wash.), PAC contributions of $239,352, or 57.8 percent of his total; Sen. Donald Stewart (D-Ala.), who was defeated Tuesday in a primary runoff, $245,082, or 54.9 percent; Rep. James Abdnor (R-S.D.), $230,816, or 51.3 percent; Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.), $181,342, or 46.7 percent; Sen. John A. Durkin (D-N.H.), $75,701, or 45.4 percent.
Also, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), $110,889, or 43.9 percent; Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.), $133,045, or 39.6 percent; Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), $187,065, or 29.9 percent; Sen. Russell B. Long (D-La.), $373,050, or 29.7 percent.
Also, Ted Kulongoski (D-Ore.), $18,997, or 29.3 percent; Sen. Wendell H. Ford (D-Ky.), $118,500, or 29.2 percent; Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), $123,770, or 28 percent; Sen. Barry M. Goldwater (R-Ariz.), $101,545, or 26.7 percent; Rep. Steve Symms (R-Idaho), $217,944, or 26.2 percent, and Rep. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.), $264,660, or 25.8 percent.
As of June 30, the Senate candidates seeking the 34 seats, either in a primary runoff or in the November election, numbered 70. Together, they had received $5.3 million from PacS -- more than double the $2.6 million reported by the FEC for all candidates for the same 18-month period of 1977-1978.
Of the 25 candidates who had raised more than $100,000 each from PACs, 20 now sit in the Senate. Those getting more than $100,000, in addition to those listed above:
Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), $240,563, or 12.5 percent of his total contributions; Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Iind.), $226,477, or 15.3 percent; Sen. Herman E. Talmadge (D-Ga.), $217,584, or 17.8 percent; Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton (D-Mo.), $166,396, or 21.9 percent; Rep. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), $164,515, or 21.2 percent.
Also, Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), $141,104, or 11.7 percent; Sen. John C. Culver (D-Iowa), $150,504 or 17.8 percent; Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), $131,246, or 10.3 percent; Alan Dixon (D-Ill.), $133,675 or 9.9 percent; Sen. Richard Stone (D-Fla.), $122,215 or 12.8 percent; Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), $118,746, or 9.4 percent, and Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), $103,025, or 23.9 percent.