As a result of misplaced type, the spending levels of several political action committees were listed in the wrong category in an article in The Washington Post yesterday. The corrected listings: The 10 biggest spenders in the current election include the United Automobile Workers, $36,400 in the 20 months before last Sept. 30 (compared with $29,850 for a 24-month period 1977-1978); AFL-CIO, $15,450 ($4,600); Carpenters and Joiners, $30,050 ($7,950); Associated Milk Producers Inc., $44,500 ($16,050); International Association of Machinists, $18,200 ($6,850); United Transportation (railroad) Union, $17,100 ($16,650), and National Association of Life Underwriters, $40,745 ($28,850). The top 10 spenders among oil company PAC's include Ashland, $8,500 (none); Exxon, $3,600 (none), and Mobil, $3,00 (none).
Political action committees are turning on the money spigots for House and Senate races as never before, even as many voters are said to be turning off.
One group of candidates drenched in PAC cash is made up of most of the 35 House Ways and Means Committee and five Senate Finance Committee members who are seeking reelection. These committees are pivotal, with jurisdiction over all taxes and perhaps one-third of federal spending through such basic programs as Social Security, Medicare, welfare and unemployment compensation.
An unofficial Washington Post tally of Federal Election Commission data for the first nine months of 1980 shows that 37 of the 40 incumbent candidates received a combined $3 million -- 34 percent of their total receipts -- from corporate, trade-association, labor, professional and other PACs.
The average for the House incumbents was $46,975, or 39 percent, and for the senators $270,985, or 31 percent. And the PAC money is still coming.
The Ways and Means incumbents showed a remarkable reliance on money from interest groups. The leader, Rep. Richard A. Gerhardt (D-Mo.), got 82 percent of his 1980 contributions from PACs, including $7,250 from health-related PACs (plus $2,000 in 1979 and $7,250 in 1977-1978). He led the floor fight that defeated a bill the industry opposed to restrict rising hospital costs.
Next came Reps. Ken Holland (D-S.C.), 75 percent; Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), who shared some of his receipts with other House Democrats, 70 percent; Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), 67 percent; Sam M. Gibbons (D-Fla.), 61 percent, and Ed Jenkins (D-Ga.), 60 percent. Four others got between 50 and 60 percent of their funds from PACs, and 10 more got between 40 and 50 percent.
By contrast, no PAC money was kept by three Ways and Means incumbent candidates and a self-imposed limit of $50 per PAC is observed by a fourth. They are, respectively, Reps. Bill Archer (R-Tex.), Willis D. Gradison Jr. (R-Ohio), Andrew Jacobs Jr. (D-Ind.) and Barber B. Conable Jr. (R-N.Y.).Negligible PAC funding, from 1 percent to 5 percent, was reported by Reps. L.A. (Skip) Bafalis (R-Fla.), Philip M. Crane (R-Ill.) and Joseph L. Fisher (D-VA.).
Leading the Senate Finance incumbents if Garylord Nelson (D-Wis.), with 1980 PAC contributions of $176,725 -- 49 percent of his total receipts. wThen come Sens. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) with $268,825, or 38 percent; Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), $173,920, or 33 percent; Russell B. Long (D-La.), the committee chairman, $383,200, or 26 percent, and Herman E. Talmadge (D-Ga.), $352,259, or 25 percent.
In this era of PACs Americana, mounting campaign costs compel many candidates to be highly dependent on interest group money. Acceptance of such money does not necessarily mean a candidate will later vote the contributor's way. But Rep. Charles A. Vanik (D-Ohio), the Ways and Means Committee's third-ranking Democrat, who is not seeking reelection, has observed that "Every campaign contribution carries some sort of lien which is an encumbrance on the legislative process."
Conable decided to impose his $50 limit in 1967 when, after his first term, he joined Ways and Means and, an aide says, suddenly found himself subjected to a great deal more lobbying than he had experienced as a rank-and-file member. He wanted"to remove any indication of undue influence," the aide said.
With so much at stake, with campaigning so costly, and with challengers increasingly getting generous financing from sources such as right-wing organizations, PAC money is pouring in from some of the narrowest single-issue constituencies on the political spectrum, even if all it may buy for those who contribute -- or invest -- is assured access to a committee member.
Take, for example, the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons unit, which gave the 37 incumbent candidates $33,550 in 1977-1978 and $9,000 more in the 20-month period ended last Sept. 30; or the PAC of the American Podiatry Association, which jumped in with both feet, giving them $12,650 in the last election and $21,500 thus far in this one.
Those two units are among 38 leading PACs, out of the total of 1,647 active ones, whose contributions to the committee members' primary, runoff and general election races between Jan. 1, 1977, and Sept. 30, 1980, were reviewed by The Post at the FEC. The interest groups represented by the 38 PACs were in these groupings:
The 10 biggest spenders in the current election, as measured through June 30 by the FEC. These units and the sums they gave the 37 incumbent candidates in the 20-month 1979-1980 period follow, with the 24-month 1977-1978 election figures in parentheses: American Medical Association and its state affiliates, $66,400 ($53,750); National Automobile Dealers Association, $42,250 ($44,150); National Association of Realtors, $57,050 ($43,600).
Also, United Automobile Workers Ashland, $8,500 (none); Exxon, $3,600 (none), and Mobil, $3,000 (none).
The top 10 (of 1,197) corporate PACs: International Paper $16,888 ($6,150); Dart Industries, $6,150 (none); Winn-Dixie Stores, $31,000 ($9,100); General Electric, $13,970 ($7,350); Union Camp (paper), $5,955 ($5,900); American Family (mainly cancer insurance), $42,750 ($26,800); General Motors, $9,250 (none); United Technologies, $5,050 ($3,250); Pfizer (mainly drugs), $13,360 ($7,200), and Amoco (see above).
The soaring reliance on PAC money is more deeply etched if the three Ways and Means members recording no PAC contributions are separated from those who got the $4.3 million. This increases the proportion of interest group money from 39 percent to 41 percent. In the 1978 election, by contrast, PAC contributions constituted a 33-percent share of the total receipts of all House incumbents who sought reelection.
In addition, PAC contributions accounted for a relatively small 14 percent of the total receipts of incumbent and all other House candidates in 1972, and 17 percent in 1974. The PAC share rose to 22 percent in 1976. That was the first full year of PACs Ameri-(one of 305 labor organizations with a PAC), $36,400 ($29,850); AFL-CIO, $15,450 ($4,600); Carpenters and Joiners, $30,353 $7,950); Associated Milk Producers Inc., $44,500 ($16,050); International Association of Machinsts, $18,200 ($6,850); United Transportation [railroad] Union, $17,100 ($16,650), and National Association of Life Underwriters, $40,745 ($28,850).
Ten (of 608) professional and trade organizations selected by Common Cause AMPAC and its affiliates (see above); American Dental Association, $53,450 ($45,950); the oral surgeons (see above); American Optometric Association, $22,000 ($7,800); American Occupational Therepy Association, $3,240 ($1,700); American Physical Therapy Association, $5,875 ($1,800); Federation of American Hospitals, $25,650 ($15,540); the podiatrists (see above); the National Association of Pharamacists, $400 ($208), and American Chiropractic Association, $7,100 (none).
Ten oil companies, which generally also are chemical manufacturers. Amoco, $10,100 ($4,250); Standard of Ohio, $250 ($200); Union Oil, $3,290 ($1,150); Sun, $6,050 ($1,750); Texaco, $2,750 ($1,600); Standard of California ($3,045 $2,370); Shell, $1,750 ($2,250); cana, the era opened mainly by a divided FEC when it voted to allow corporate tills to be tapped to create and operate PACs that solicit stockholders, officers, and mid-level and professional employes. In the 1978 election the PAC share rose another three points to 25 percent.
A House-passed bill to limit PAC contributions, although it would apply exclusively to House races, has been stalled in the Senate by a threatened filibuster.
Even the current two-fifths PAC share of Ways and Means members' receipts significantly understates the realities, for reasons such as these:
PACs give large sums to Democratic and Republican national and Capitol Hill committees, and these pass along much of the cash to candidates. cA case in point is that of the three leading dairy cooperatives. Merely in the first nine months of 1980, they gave at least $54,000 to Democratic and $37,500 to GOP committees.
Particularly in the case of corporate PACs, a contribution often is accompanied by synergistic personal gifts from company officers or owners and members of their families.On July 15, for example, Ways and Means Chairman Al Ullman (D-Ore.) listed a $1,000 contribution from the PAC of Bechtel Corp. of San Francisco, the world's largest engineering construction firm -- and individual gifts of $1,000 each from Bechtel Vice Chairman George P. Shultz and Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. The latter's father was listed for $500.
Unions commonly provide troops whose work for favored candidates, such as ringing doorbells or running phone banks, is legally "soft money" that isn't required to be reported in PAC filings.
A PAC contribution in a past election is often but a prologue to a steady diet of more contributions from the same PAC in subsequent elections, assuming it's satisfied with the legislator's performance or responsiveness.
Take Ways and Means member John J. Duncan (R-Tenn.). In 1974, the PACs of the AMA's Tennessee affiliate and of the oral surgeons each give him $2,500. In 1976 their contributions were, respectively, $8,000 and $5,000, and in 1978, $5,100 and $5,000. Similarly, Senate Finance member Bob Dole, after getting $13,300 from AMA units between 1972 and mid-1976, has picked up for his 1980 reelection bid $9,500 from the same PACs and $5,000 from the oral surgeons.
Among the other highlights of The Post survey:
Contributions of the 38 selected PACs to the 32 Ways and Means incumbents who accepted such monies totaled $450,438 in the 20-months period of the current election, $5,020 more than they received in the 24 months ended Dec. 31, 1978.
Ways and Means Chairman Ullman, who took only $8,400 from the 38 PACs last time around, accepted $22,450, nearly three times as much, from them in the recent 20-month period. He faces a hard challenge from Republican Denny Smith, whose PAC receipts of $69,111 in 1979-1980 are less than one-third of the $220,975 interest groups have given Ullman merely in the first three quarters of 1980. The $220,975 amounts to 53 percent of the incumbent's total receipts in the same period. Ordinarily, PACs are less generous to challengers, although that sometimes means putting aside their normal biases.
Of the combined total of $3 million in PAC money received in 1980 by the Ways and Means and Senate Finance incumbents, 25 Democrats averaged $88,442, while 12 Republicans averaged $65,668.
Among the Ways and Means incumbents, the biggest receivers of PAC monies in the first nine months of this year were, after Ullman, Reps. James C. Corman (D-Calif.), $180,290 (41 percent of his total); Rostenkowski, $121,520 (70 percent, as was noted), and James R. Jones (D-Okla.), $93,016 (48 percent).
Contributions of at least $5,000 each made in 1980 by particular PACs included: auto dealers, Reps. Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.), Jones, Rep. James G. Martin (R-N.C.), and Rostenkowski; UAW, Reps. Corman and Thomas J. Downey (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Long and Talmadge; Machinists, Corman; AMA, Reps. Gephardt, Jake Pickle (D-Tex.) and Rostenkowski, and Sens. Dole, Packwood and Talmadge; American Family, Rep. Rangel; American Dental Association, Packwood; oral surgeons, Dole; AMPI, Long and Talmadge; Winn-Dixie, Talmadge, and Carpenters and Joiners, Talmadge.
The health-related PACs in the Post Survey gave, in the 20-month period starting Jan. 1, 1979, $22,050 to Dole, $23,440 to Talmadge, $18,900 to Packwood, $15,750 to Rostenkowski, $14,450 to Corman, $9,400 to Pickle, and $9,000 to Martin.
The only Ways and Means member to receive, starting in 1977, contributions from all of the top 10 corporation PACs was Holland. The total was $9,500. Several other members got money from eight or nine of these PACs.