In its 2015 annual report released last week, the state Registry of Election Finance reports $3.85 million in political action committee donations were made during the year — virtually the same as in 2013, the last nonelection year.
That compares to $6.8 million in PAC donations to candidates during the 2014 election year, a figure that was down from the state record of $8.2 million in 2012. All figures cover only donations directly to candidates, excluding those that went from one PAC to another, such as an industry PAC donating to a legislative leader’s PAC.
In 2014, the Registry reported a record $3.25 million in PAC “independent expenditures” in addition to the $8.2 million in candidate contributions — typically advertising supporting or opposing a legislative candidate without a direct donation to a campaign. No such expenditures appear in the report for 2015, a non-election year.
The 2015 report also shows that the number of registered PACs dropped to 620, reversing an overall trend toward creation of more PACs in almost all recent years. In 2015, 73 PACs were closed while only 37 new PACs opened accounts with the Registry, the report says, though adding a cautionary note.
“With 2016 being an election year, we expect to see more new PACs registered. The trend of more overall PACs being registered and large number of PACs closing and opening will continue to increase the demands on the Registry each year,” the report says. “The Registry will need to continue to become more efficient in order to meet its mandated duties.”