This post has been updated to remove quotation marks around the phrase “given its blessing,” which refers to the RNC’s position regarding a proposed candidate forum hosted by groups involved with the Black Lives Matter movement. The RNC did not make the statement directly, but it is not standing in the way of the forum.

Black Lives Matter is a collective of organizations that sprung up around the country after a series of incidents of alleged police and private gun-owner misconduct. It has been labeled a hate group by some conservatives and quite nearly has been blamed by the  FBI director for emboldening criminals and cowing cops. And now, it includes a PAC.

Yes, a political action committee, as defined by the Federal Election Commission.

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Like many, many other PACs, the group will raise funds from the public and make $5,000 donations to federal candidates (to see full list of limits click here), use those dollars to bolster the campaigns of those who share its policy priorities and extract real or figurative promises from those who accept the funds to advance the group's political priorities. PACs can also operate independently of a candidate (this is where that no-coordination rule comes in) to do things like register voters or run ads that aim to bring particular issues and perspectives on those issues to the public's attention.

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Records indicate that Kenny Murdock, a radio show host and one-time aide to former Missouri secretary of state Robin Carnahan (D) and a group of activists in the St. Louis area sent paperwork to the FEC to formally register the organization as a PAC. The group submitted documents to this effect in September (you can view them here). Murdock's name does not appear on the form, but his e-mail address does. And he's told reporters with blogs and liberal information-peddling organizations such as Think Progress that he is involved.

There' nothing remotely eyebrow raising about Murdock's involvement, unless one happens to disagree with the politics he expresses on his weekly show. They are decidedly liberal but not radical. As the show's Facebook page puts it the show is all about, "edutaining you on the current political climate in a manner that is accessible to everyone."

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The news about the birth of a Black Lives Matter PAC came as a surprise and maybe even caused a stir in some circles, because many of the organizations and activists operating under the Black Lives Matter umbrella have been pretty plain about this: They do not endorse candidates or want the endorsement of a particular political party.

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In fact, in August, the network rejected the latter. MSNBC reported that Democrats passed a resolution "supporting the Black Lives Matter movement" at its summer meeting. Then The Hill and several other outlets reported on the statement that network affiliates released in response. It did not begin and end with a "thanks."

A resolution signaling the Democratic National Committee’s endorsement that Black lives matter, in no way implies an endorsement of the DNC by the Black Lives Matter Network, nor was it done in consultation with us. We do not now, nor have we ever, endorsed or affiliated with the Democratic Party, or with any party. The Democratic Party, like the Republican and all political parties, have historically attempted to control or contain Black people’s efforts to liberate ourselves. True change requires real struggle, and that struggle will be in the streets and led by the people, not by a political party.

Activists involved with Black Lives Matter organizations are interested in specific policy changes and want to push every lawmaker that they can to put them in place. Murdock has told reporters he sees the PAC as yet another arm or means to do so.

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But the broader network's preferred means to do so seem a bit different from a traditional PAC. Just last week, network organizations put out a call to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to allow more primary debates than currently scheduled. Specifically, the group also wants "a #BlackLivesMatter-themed Presidential debate."

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Their reasoning, according to a statement released last week, would seem to include a clear allusion to all that went on -- or more specifically, did not go on -- during the first Democratic debate broadcast on CNN two weeks ago:

It is not enough to poll the Presidential candidates on whether or not they think "Black lives matter" or "All lives matter." We deserve substantive responses. Including and in addition to criminal justice reform, what will the presidential candidates do to ensure that Black lives matter?
We deserve substance and not rhetoric. In fact, we demand it. Join the call for a Black Lives Matter Presidential debate focused on the issues important to our community.

These are, of course, all words. This whole thing -- the movement and the PAC that says it shares the movement's goals -- rank among the relatively newly minted. So, the difference, if any, really remains to be seen. It's not an easy marriage of a political movement and a formal political organization.

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