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PACs & Politics

OPB | July 30, 2010 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 9:33 p.m.

A group of activist women in Portland have spent a lot of their time and energy advocating for family issues — like banning Bisphenol-A (BPA), modernizing workplaces, and particularly paid family leave. (In fact we had one of those women, Andrea Paluso, on a previous show about that very topic.)

But no matter how much awareness-making they’ve done, they didn’t feel they were having a real impact on the political process. Then one day it hit them: the way to influence politicians is with cold hard cash. So, in preparation for this November’s election they formed a political action committee: The Mother Pac.

Now they’re gathering in living rooms across Portland, raising awareness of their issues and, more importantly at this juncture, raising money for their PAC. Meanwhile they’re also interviewing state legislative candidates to determine who to back.

The process, the enthusiasm, and the checkbook-opening, made us think a lot about money and politics. How do you influence politics with money? What’s the role of lobbyists?

How do you decide how much to give and to whom? How do you know if the promises candidates make will actually be followed through with if and when they’re elected? And at what point do people decide that their voices alone are not geting enough attention… and that they need to be amplified with money?

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