What’s a PAC, why does it sound so scary, and what does it mean for me?

By Tiffany Hsieh, Digital Director

A Political Action Committee (PAC) is focused on raising and spending money to elect candidates running for public office. In our case, we are a PAC focusing on supporting progressive Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) candidates that are running for public office. PACs in the past few years have been given a bad reputation and we are here to demystify them!

Here’s the 101

A PAC is a group that raises and spends money on elections, but it’s not run by a political party or individual candidates. PACs donate money to parties or candidates they support and can only give up to $5000 to a candidate during their elections, including their primary, general and special election. PACs can raise money from any individuals who wish to contribute or receive money from other PACs.

PACs play an central role in helping elect the right people to office, are a tool to build relationships with candidates, and gets more people engaged in the political process in various ways including donating money or volunteering time through phone banking or canvassing for candidates. 

PACs are integral in the political process because they allow individuals to have collective power. We can all individually donate money to candidates. But through donating to a PAC, we are able to bundle all of our donations together and have a larger impact. It helps make our community stronger and more unified. We have a more collective voice and power, and candidates will recognize our community’s collective financial strengths. 

By bundling your donations through AAAFund, you effectively:

  • Increase the impact of your individual donation 
  • Demonstrate greater unity in the AANHPI community 
  • Establish a two-way relationship with the candidate/candidate
  • Support an important institution in building and strengthening AANHPI political power

AAFund’s Role Supporting Progressive AANHPI Candidates

Before AAAFund formally endorses candidates and financially supports them, we have an endorsement process to evaluate the candidate’s vision, values, and commitment to the AANHPI community. We have candidates fill out a questionnaire that asks them how they have supported our AANHPI community and how they will continue to advocate and fight for our community and our shared values. All candidates considered for our endorsement must meet all of the following basic requirements: 

  • Participate actively in Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander organizations
  • Demonstrate electoral viability
  • Publicly endorse federal civil rights legislation, and similar state and local anti-discrimination laws or legislation 
  • Advocate for policies that assist the AANHPI community, including on issues relating to civil rights, immigration, workplace discrimination, underrepresentation, racial profiling, and women’s reproductive freedom 
AAAFund’s Tiffany Hsieh and Vivian Chang with endorsed candidate Gina Ortiz Jones running for Congress in Texas 23!

We then have an interview with candidates to further evaluate their commitment to our community and their viability of their campaign. AAAFund’s Endorsement Co-Chairs will then review the candidate’s interview and call a Board vote for consensus. AAAFund’s Board will then deliberate and will determine if the candidate will formally receive AAAFund’s endorsement. Candidates will then receive our public and financial support and can leverage our endorsement to further reach out to the AANHPI community and spend money to support their campaign efforts. Through this process, we can ensure that the candidates we support align with our mission and our values. 

Candidates endorsed by AAAFund may receive one or more of the following forms of assistance: 

  • A direct campaign contribution 
  • A solicitation to members of our donor network
  • Grassroots campaign assistance — such as canvasing or phone banking 
  • Publicity through our digital newsletter, website, and social media 

What YOU can do to help us!

Through your individual action of donating to our PAC and volunteering your time, you have a seat at the table. Your actions influence the candidate’s policies, agendas, and helps support the values you believe in and fight for. Through AAAFund, we are able to create relationships with the candidates and with their campaigns. When they become elected public officials, we are able to continue building our relationship, hold them accountable, and mutually support each other in fighting for our shared progressive values and for our AANHPI community. 

AAAFund’s Young Professionals phone banking for candidates!

Here are some immediate ways you can learn more and get involved!

It takes all of us to build a collective, people-powered movement to elect progressive AANHPIs to public office. We hope that you can join us in our movement.

Unless clearly identified as statements of the AAA-Fund, the views, opinions, analyses, and assumptions expressed in each blog or clearinghouse post are those of the author or contributor alone, and not those of the AAA-Fund.