The super PAC era spawned many changes in political campaigns. Here's another one: Traditional political action committees are taking expensive steps to retain relevance in an age when the price of politics keeps soaring.
On top of writing their traditional four-figure checks to House and Senate candidates, a number of regular PACs are already pouring tens or hundreds of thousands into mail, TV, or other advertisements directly advocating for certain candidates. As outside spending has boomed this election, led by over $40 million from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, regular PACs — including some run by potential presidential contenders in 2016 — are trying to keep up with the Joneses.
For a political generation, White House aspirants from Al Gore to Barack Obama used leadership PACs to send $1,000 donations to candidates around the country, hoping to curry favor with local and national politicians whose support could come in handy during a presidential primary. But that kind of money doesn't make as much of a dent in campaign costs as it once did.
"Leadership PACs are almost a thing of the past when you've got soft money out there able to write these kinds of checks," says Terry Sullivan, the director of Sen. Marco Rubio's leadership PAC.
"Leadership PACs are almost a thing of the past."
"$10,000 is great for a candidate, and they're appreciative," Sullivan continued. "But that and another $10 million is what they need to run a campaign. We wanted to be able to do more."... Under the current environment, that doesn't make the kind of impact Marco wanted to make."