What’s in a leadership PAC name? Plenty of dough, as the members who run these personal political action committees have learned. Leadership PACs run by lawmakers pulled in roughly $400 million in the 2014 election cycle, according to a CQ Roll Call analysis of data.
Such PACs compete not only for dollars, but for clever names, often concocting elaborate acronyms or catchy regional references to woo potential donors. From the Penguin PAC run by Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, to the Blue Hen PAC run by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., leadership PACs are named for animals, plants, landmarks, colors and the campaign platforms of the politicians who run them. Once run principally by congressional leaders — hence their now-outdated moniker — leadership PACs are so ubiquitous they are routinely set up by freshmen, and even sometimes by candidates who have not yet won election.
Politicians use these PACs to back like-minded candidates and to pay for everything from travel, to meals and fundraisers at swanky restaurants and resorts. They’ve quadrupled in number to more than 400 over the past two decades, and several have family members, such as spouses and children, on the payroll.
An exhaustive Roll Call search of these leadership PACs yielded the following list of the most cleverly named entities, followed by sponsoring member and total receipts for 2014:
Funding Republicans Supporting Opportunity & Growth (FROG) Jump PAC: Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., $61,000.
HellerHighwater PAC: Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., $686,000.
PAC to the Future: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, $1.2 million.
Inland Empire Strikes PAC: Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., $74,000.
Committee for the Preservation of Capitalism: Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., $416,000.
Doing Our Utmost for God Liberty & Security (DOUGLAS) PAC: Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., $30,000.
Taxpayers Incensed by Government Excess and Regulation PAC: Rep. Dennis A. Ross, R-Fla., $42,000.
Best Animal PACs
Blue Hen PAC: Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., $421,000.
Penguin PAC: Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, $106,000.
Eye of the Tiger PAC: Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., $851,000.
Sawtooth PAC: Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, $140,000.
Tomorrow Is Meaningful PAC: Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., $228,000.
Believe in Life, Liberty, Yourself PAC: Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., $73,000.
Everybody Counts, Everybody Matters PAC: Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., $13,000.
Making a Responsible Stand for Households in America (MARSHA) PAC: Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., $167,000.
Defending and Investing in America’s New Endeavors (DIANE) PAC: Diane Black, R-Tenn., $105,000.
Defense Economic Renewal Education & Knowledge (DEREK) PAC: Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., $67,000.
Building Relationships in Diverse Geographic Environments (BRIDGE) PAC: Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., $1.3 million.
Cultivating Leadership for Environmental Action Now (CLEAN) PAC: Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., $150,000.
Sources: Political MoneyLine, Center for Responsive Politics and the Federal Election Commission. Related: A Campaign Finance-Minded Don Quixote of Congress When Activists Run for Office GOP Operative Pleads Guilty to Coordination, Making False Statements to FBI Bundling Campaign Contributions Is Legal, but Carries Risks | A Question of Ethics The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.