With Election Day a month behind us, new campaign finance reports reveal the role Super PACs played in Massachusetts races this year.

With Election Day a month behind us, new campaign finance reports reveal the role Super PACs played in Massachusetts races this year. A Nov. 30 analysis from the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance shows those independent expenditure groups increased the amount they spent in efforts to influence Massachusetts legislature races. Here’s a closer look at Super PAC activity in the Bay State.

 

What is a Super PAC?

A Super PAC, or independent expenditure political action committee, is an organization that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, but cannot directly coordinate with candidates or parties. They often run ads or campaigns independently to support or oppose particular candidates. Super PACs came into existence following the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling.

 

Do Super PACs spend money on state races?

Yes, Super PAC spending is becoming increasingly common, even in state legislature races. In Massachusetts, Super PACs spent more than $1.1 million to support or oppose specific candidates in the 2016 state election, compared to less than $201,000 in 2012, the last election that didn’t feature statewide races, according to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

 

Can other groups make independent expenditures?

Yes. Other groups and traditional PACs in Massachusetts reported more than $450,000 in independent expenditures to support or oppose state election candidates in 2016.

 

Which Massachusetts Super PACs spent the most in 2016?

Massachusetts Teachers Association IEPAC: $386,348

Democrats for Education Reform: $201,031

Mass. Realtor IEPAC: $181,607

Rise Up Together: $153,403

Jobs First: $104,171

Environmental League of Mass.: $19,189

Mass. Values: $8,154

Retired Public Employees: $2,026

 

How much did Super PACs spend in federal elections this year?

More than 2,400 Super PACs spent a combined $1.1 billion in federal elections in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.