As a general rule, political action committees try not to draw too much attention to themselves, and that begins with a generic name. But some politicians and fundraisers are setting aside caution and having a little fun.
A recent search through the Federal Election Commission’s online list of 2012 election-cycle leadership PACs found a number of committee names that strive to be a little different.
A few sound like you might want to be careful touching them: the Cactus PAC, the Razor PAC and the Sharp Pencil PAC.
Animal names are also popular: There is a Husky PAC, a Wolverine PAC, the Thoroughbred PAC and the Blue Hen PAC. There are even two PAC names mentioning a certain short-legged mammal: Badger Fund Inc. and Badger PAC.
And others sound like something Dr. Seuss might donate to: Mac PAC and SAC PAC, not to mention the Wild and Wonderful PAC.
They are a far cry from the usual political action committee names, which strive for vague, patriotic themes.
“PACs want to sound wholesome and healthful, akin to motherhood and organic apple pie,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “That way, it is tougher to attack them because people say, ‘Whoa, that name seems nice — who could be against freedom or strength or a better tomorrow?’”
Such “wholesome” PAC names include those like the Freedom Project, Prosperity PAC, Freedom & Security PAC, Protect America’s Future PAC Inc. and PAC to the Future.
In fact, there are eight leadership PACs in this election cycle alone using the word “freedom” in their names, and there are seven that mention the word “leadership” in the title.
Because they are already tied to a specific politician, leadership PACs may be more likely to have fun, or funny, names.
Many PACs use the names of the lawmakers who sponsor them, including the Bill PAC, sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.); IRL PAC, sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.); and Because All Responsible Taxpayers Like Every Truth Told PAC, sponsored by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.). There is even an almost-four-letter word PAC named the Make Schiff Happen PAC, which is affiliated with businessman Peter Schiff, according to the FEC’s website.
One PAC that incorporates a state name is Rep. Jo Ann Emerson’s (R-Mo.) Grow MO PAC.
“‘Grow MO’ stands for ‘Grow Missouri,’ and we’re pretty much supporting those individuals that will work with Congresswoman Emerson to revitalize the private sector of the economy,” said Steve Gordon, treasurer of the Grow MO PAC. “We’re about growing Missouri and the country. It verbally visualizes the essence of Jo Ann Emerson’s Congressional agenda.”
In August, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) filed with the FEC to introduce “Who Dat PAC,” which he sponsors, according to FEC documents.
The name was developed by Richmond with feedback from his fellow Louisianans. It refers to the famous chant of the New Orleans football team, the Saints.
“I asked my friends and neighbors in Louisiana for a name,” Richmond said. “‘Who dat’ was a clear winner.
“Here in Louisiana, we love our state, our culture and, yes, our Saints,” he added. “Who dat!”
Another uniquely named PAC is the Eye of the Tiger PAC, sponsored by Richmond’s fellow Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise (R).
The name has nothing to do with the famous song of the same name by rock band Survivor, but instead it pays homage to Scalise’s alma mater, Louisiana State University. Specifically, the name comes from the university’s team nickname, the Fightin’ Tigers.
Stephen Bell, Scalise’s communications director, said the lawmaker came up with the PAC name himself. While at the school, Scalise lived in a dorm right next to the football field and he has been an avid fan ever since.
“The name keeps the focus on what’s important,” Bell said.
PAC names, Sabato noted, can play a role in attracting attention for a given organization.
“A clever-sounding PAC name on the cover of an envelope or in the heading of an email might evoke a chuckle and cause a recipient to actually open the message,” he said. “Half the struggle today is to avoid being tossed or deleted before the recipient sees your pitch. We’re all overwhelmed.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.