As with Sarah Palin’s Sarah PAC, set up ostensibly to help her favorite Republican candidates win their elections but which gives very little money to those candidates, Mike Huckabee’s Huck PAC has the same problem. Lots of money has been paid out to family members and fundraisers, but almost none of the money raised has actually gone to candidates.
Huck PAC, which Huckabee launched in 2008 after dropping out of the Republican presidential race, “is committed to electing conservatives across the nation at all levels of government,” according to a statement on its website. But according to review of Federal Election Commission records, a significant portion of the money the PAC has collected has gone into the salaries of family members or the coffers of direct-mail fundraising firms.
Katherine Harris, Huckabee’s niece, was paid $165,042 between 2008 and 2013 (plus benefits), first as a staffer for the PAC and then as a contract worker. Sarah Huckabee, his daughter, received $104,308 between 2008 and 2010 as the PAC’s executive director. And Huckabee’s daughter-in-law, Lauren Huckabee, who Politico reported in 2012 manages her father-in-law’s schedule, donor relations, and endorsements, has been paid $111,274 for her work at Huck PAC. The ex-governor’s short-lived non-profit, America Takes Action, Inc. previously paid her $60,548…
Republican candidates haven’t benefited as much from the political action committee as Huckabee’s relatives. Since its inception, Huck PAC has never spent more than 12 percent of its funds on candidates or other PACs. It gave only 5 percent of its revenues—that is $47,000 of $1,063,142—to candidates during the 2012 cycle, when Huckabee briefly flirted with a second presidential run. Meanwhile, the PAC’s budget has increasingly flowed to firms that specialize in direct-mail fundraising, a notoriously inefficient process that can cost a PAC almost as much money as it yields. So to a certain degree Huck PAC donors are not underwriting Huckabee’s favorite conservative causes; they’re financing more fundraising.
This is pretty much standard operating procedure for these PACs, except for those run by members of Congress. Their PACs will be used to support other members of their party get elected because that’s how they earn favors and support from those candidates once they’re in office. That’s how you get leadership positions and plum committee assignments. But for those who don’t hold office, these PACs are largely slush funds.