The super PAC supporting Carly Fiorina for president changed its name Monday from Carly for America to CARLY for America super PAC, which stands for:
You and ...
... for America ... super PAC.
This is what's known as a "backronym" -- an acronym made after-the-fact, a string of words chosen to fit the five letters of Fiorina's first name. It could have been
- "Committed Action Restoring the Legitimacy of Yesterday" or
- "Compassionate Americans Reveal Liberty's Yearn" or
- "Cool Awesome Rad League You should really give your money to," or
- "Couple of Awkward words Rammed together Lol YOLO."
It doesn't really matter. Because turning Carly into the acronym CARLY was just the way the super PAC (Political Action Committee) got around FEC (Federal Election Commission) rules.
FEC rules state that committees can only use a federal candidate's name if they're authorized by that candidate, something super PACS, by rule, cannot be since they're supposed to be independent. That's why the PACs Ready for Hillary and Stand with Rand became Ready PAC and SWR PAC, respectively. (These examples didn't even bother to use a backronym). But Carly for America thought it could get away with the rule.
Executive director Steve DeMaura told the Wall Street Journal in April that super PACs didn't use candidate's names "for practical political reasons not based in legal fact." But in a letter sent by the FEC and reported by the Wall Street Journal, the FEC said Carly for America had to either: 1) change its name or 2) become authorized by Fiorina. Otherwise, it would face audit and possible enforcement action. So they abided by the letter but not the spirit of the FEC rule -- an increasingly common thing candidates are doing these days.
(See "the extended unofficial pre-campaign of Bush, Jeb," which allowed him to coordinate with the Right to Rise PAC before announcing his candidacy and "the bizarre, silent footage of McConnell, Mitch," of him just sitting there silently so that super PACs could use the footage in pro-McConnell ads if they want.)
Super PACs are criticized for the lack of transparency they bring to politics, but in one way, Carly for America was pretty transparent. One of those "practical reasons" DeMaura mentioned that PACs have traditionally not include a candidate's name is because super PACs have a history of running negative TV ads. Low-information voters would see ads slamming a candidate and have a negative association with him or her, but not with the candidate the PAC was supporting since the supported candidate's name wasn't used in the ad at all.
So it will be easier for voters to know the allegiances of the people behind negative ads run by CARLY for America than it will be for ads run by Priorities USA Action (Clinton), Keep the Promise (Cruz), or Opportunity and Freedom PAC (Perry).
Of course, if the PAC wants to avoid that little downside, it can always go with the lengthier disclaimer: "Conservative Authentic Responsive Leadership for You and for America is responsible for the contents of this advertising."