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Kalivianakis: The impact of PACs on government


Are political action committees (PACs) good for small towns? PACs are backed by special interest money and make deals to influence elected officials and candidates for elected office. The result is that voters' voices can be effectively muffled. 

PACs tend to be single-issue entities and are not concerned with the general good: public safety, fire protection, infrastructure, parks and recreation, roads/sidewalks, etc. Because they are often ideological or issue-based, PACs advocate for specific policy positions. They support officials, candidates and causes that align with their limited goals and priorities rather than encouraging government that represents the best interests of its citizens.   

Political parties are groups that collectively seek common goals through political power. PACs provide financial support to causes that align with their own limited objectives, and to candidates that will further those goals. In many cases, PACs are specifically created to either support or oppose ballot initiatives or referendums. 

Noticeably missing in the definition of PACs is any commitment to good overall government. PACs don’t maintain or manage public spaces, enforce safety regulations, address citizen concerns or provide any community services. Constituents often complain, “It doesn't seem like elected officials are listening to us. They lack common sense!" Perhaps those elected officials are listening, but not to John and Jane Q. Public. Could they be listening to, and doing the bidding of, a political action committee instead? 

I encourage those that are interested in the toxic influence of PACs to read "Shouting Down the Voice of the People: Political Parties, Powerful PACs, and Concerns About Corruption" by Clarisa Long. Good government is achieved by listening to the right people … the residents and the voters. The government's paramount role is to address real issues in people's lives and provide solutions to the communities they represent.

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at AzOpinions@iniusa.org.