What are PACs and Super PACs?

Hillary Clinton speaks at the podium of an SEIU event, joined by SEIU members in matching t-shirts.
Editor's note:

To see more Elections101 videos, visit

This year’s unusual election notwithstanding, the amount of money spent in U.S. presidential elections has been growing significantly from one election cycle to the next. Even more worrying, the amount of information publicly available about who funds these elections is declining. These trends are fueled by the increasing role of super PACs in presidential elections.

What is a super PAC? And how are these trends in campaign finance affecting U.S. politics? Vanessa Williamson, a fellow in the Governance Studies program, gives her insight and expert analysis on these issues and more in the video below. In a recent blog post, Williamson discusses the SEIU and League of Conservation Voter endorsements and support of Hillary Clinton and how they will affect the presidential election. Donations and independent expenditures by wealthy individuals and groups like these, as she explains, impact the structure of U.S. elections.

Watch the video to discover how campaigns are financed, what rules and restrictions are in place, and the impact that PACs and super PACs have on election outcomes.