Where all the PAC money goes

November 6, 2023


  • Many professional organizations in North Carolina contribute to political campaigns through PACs
  • Most of these organization PACs are very heavily Republican-leaning
  • Professional organization members should be aware of where their PAC contributions really go


There are many professional organizations that advocate on behalf of their communities and industry groups in North Carolina. But some take that advocacy to a whole new level by organizing political action committees, or PACs, which raise money from their members and contribute it to political campaigns in our state legislature. By doing so, they hope to support candidates who are amenable to their industry’s priorities, and gain (or, literally, buy) influence with politicians on pending legislation.

The problem? Most of their members have little idea what their organizations’ PACs are actually doing in Raleigh. Very few people look up state PAC campaign finance reports (or even know how), and rely on their industry groups for information about goings-on at the state legislature. In some cases, that has led to a widening information gap between the values of the men and women who make up the rank-and-file memberships of these professional groups, and the professional “advocacy” or “government relations” or lobbyist teams that those groups employ.

Today, Carolina Forward is launching an effort to fill that gap. For the next month, Carolina Forward will fund a statewide ad campaign targeting members of these communities to raise awareness of what their professional associations are really doing in Raleigh.

Realtors, Nurses and Healthcare Professionals

Realtors, nurses and other healthcare professionals (especially physicians) are chiefly represented by three major professional associations in North Carolina: the NC Realtors, NC Nurses Association, and the NC Medical Society. All three of these PACs are major campaign donors to lawmakers in our state legislature. In fact, the NC Realtors are one of the biggest PACs in the state. All three also give very heavily to Republican politicians.

Readers can refer to NC-PACS, our regularly updated spreadsheet of corporate PAC giving in North Carolina’s legislature, for exact detail.

Through their PAC contributions, the members of the NC Realtors, NC Nurses Association and NC Medical Society are directly supporting the policies enacted by the Republican majority of our legislature: abortion bans, defunding public education, partisan gerrymandering and weakening gun laws. Many, if not most, members of these groups oppose these policies, often strongly – but are simply unaware that their PAC contributions support them.

Much of what goes on in our state legislature is very opaque to the general public – some because of a lack of media coverage, and some by design. But it’s critical that people be informed about the impact of their political contributions, and the actions of the professional organizations they belong to in our state legislature. And where those organizations’ actions don’t align with their members’ values, one of them should adjust their support accordingly.

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