PAC names: Who comes up with this stuff? And what's the mission?

Posted at 1:44 PM, Feb 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-20 22:13:33-05

Freedom. Patriot. Liberty. Do these words inspire you to fulfill your obligation to God and country and donate to a political action committee? Well, their creators certainly hope so.

PAC names come off like a Fourth of July word bank, full of nouns that instinctively make you crave hot dogs. Their absurdity has been noted by organizations such as the Sunlight Foundation and WNYC, who created their own PAC-name generators (“50+ Households for Growth” and “Hype Bombing Everyone Else” are initial favorites).

The over-the-top sobriquets are easy to slam. But somewhere, someone is putting a lot of brainpower into dreaming up PAC names. Take, for example, last year’s Boats ‘N Hoes super PAC backing Texan Republicans. Because what is more American than a Will Ferrell movie reference?

But other PACs have a storied background worthy of scholarly scrutiny - or at least the attention of burgeoning wordsmiths in a high school English class. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s PAC, O’ Say Can You See PAC, may sound like overbearing Americana. But according to the Washington Examiner it has three layers behind it nodding to his last name, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired the song.

Mind. Blown.

But according to the Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison, who spoke to USA Today, the aim of the generally innocuous pro-America PAC name isn’t humor or allusion. It’s deception.

“They are trying to blur who they are,” he said. “They want the focus to not be on the name, but on the content of their ads. I’m surprised we haven’t had the Cute Puppies and Kittens super PAC yet.”

Although there are no puppies or kittens to be found, 2015’s new crop of PAC and super PAC registrants don’t disappoint. From the Star Spangled to the sassy, let’s look at some of our favorites.

Super PACs

The DecodeDC award for best super PAC name of 2015 (so far): PAC

This also raises an important question: If Hillary Clinton is elected president, what do we call Bill? First Gentleman? Or would we have to address them both as President Clinton? The jury is still out on that one.

Runners-up: Reaganation; Bac Pac: Bettering American Classrooms; We the People, Not Washington


The DecodeDC award for best PAC name of 2015 (so far): Capitol Heel

The Greensboro, N.C., PAC tips its hat to its origins and, as I most fervently hope, manages to call all of Congress heels in the process.

Runners-up: Joining to Elevate the Truth (JETT) Pac; What a Country! PAC; Campaign to Elect Jim Taylor for Superintendent School District of Escambia County Florida (its transparency should be applauded)

[Also by Abby Johnston: Story behind those catch legislation titles]

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