The Tale of Two GOPACs

One is a 527, the other is a PAC. My failure to distinguish between the two resulted in an incomplete portrayal of Michael Steele.

I stand by my criticism of Steele, a candidate for Republican National Committee chairman, but I should have explained the difference between GOPAC Inc., a 527 tax-exempt organization, and GOPAC America, a political committee organized to elect candidates.

Yesterday I cited campaign finance data related to GOPAC America, criticizing a $5,000 expenditure to Steele for Maryland, even though he wasn’t on the ballot in 2008. Steele created GOPAC America to play a role in federal elections. GOPAC gave 11 candidates seeking U.S. House seats nearly $20,000. Six won and five lost.

There’s more to the story. GOPAC Inc. is the organization founded by former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont after the 1978 elections. Steele took over as chairman in 2007. GOPAC Inc. executive director David Avella told me the organization raised $8 million under Steele’s direction. Among its accomplishments: helping Oklahoma Republicans take control of the State Senate for the first time in history; aiding Tennessee Republicans in gain control of the State Senate and House; and assisting Montana Republicans gain control in the State Senate. Eighteen of its 25 “Rising-Star Republicans” won election.

GOPAC Inc. plays an important role training Republicans. Steele has certainly helped boost the organization’s fundraising. That certainly makes me feel better about him, but it doesn’t change my mind about his candidacy for the RNC.