First Amendment Free Speech, Political Action Committees, and SUPER Pacs

First Amendment Free Speech, Political Action Committees, and SUPER Pacs
First Amendment Free Speech, Political Action Committees, and SUPER Pacs
First Amendment Free Speech, Political Action Committees, and SUPER Pacs
First Amendment Free Speech, Political Action Committees, and SUPER Pacs
First Amendment Free Speech, Political Action Committees, and SUPER Pacs
First Amendment Free Speech, Political Action Committees, and SUPER Pacs
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23 Pages total
(18 Powerpoint slides and 10 pages of MicroSoft Word documents, a reproducible and two sample essays written Fall 2012 by my community college students)


This unit explains how parts of the first amendment “free speech” protections relate to the development of political action committees (PACs), 527 Organizations, and the rise of Super PACs. Since 2010, when they became legal, Super PACs have become very powerful campaign financers of U.S. national elections. Some of the Power point slides contain hot links (URLs) to Federal Election Commission documents and graphics (by state) as well as detailed data from OpenSecrets (a nonpartisan watch dog campaign finance reporting non-profit). These permit students to access detailed updated specific campaign finance information for any state for major or minor party Presidential candidates from the 2012 U.S. Presidential primary and general election cycle.

As of October 11, 2016; I have updated (added five additional slides) with information on PACS and SuperPac contributions to the major 2016 Presidential candidates including H. Clinton, D. Trump (and former candidates Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich).

Super PACs are independent (sometimes ‘social welfare’ non-profit) expenditure only committees which are permitted to collect unlimited (in many cases anonymous) campaign contributions. They may spend unlimited dollars for political advertising, but cannot be directly coordinated with or by the candidate they support. Super PACs became legal as a result of two high profile U.S. Supreme Court cases in 2010 (Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission and Speechnow.org vs. Federal Elections Commission). These cases which repealed major portions of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold) are highlighted in the Power points. Nearly thirteen hundred (1,293) different Super PACs contributed a total of 838.6 million dollars in support of their candidate in the 2012 Presidential election cycle.

I have included the MS Word Super PAC essay, I assigned to my community college students fall term 2012, along with two sample actual student essays. The essay assignment has nine ‘hot link’ (URL) sources to help students. (These can also be useful in expanding or customizing your own lecture and discussion on this topic.) I have updated (since the election) and modified the original assignment as a reproducible you can use in your classroom specific, to your own U.S. state.
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13 slides
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