314 PAC Makes Three

I’m late to the party about a new science-oriented Political Action Committee, 314 PAC.  By my far from official count, this makes three different PACs (First in Science, Franklin’s List and 314 PAC) focused on science and technology in some fashion.  First in Science is focused on improving research funding rather than supporting individual candidates, which is the focus of both 314 and Franklin’s List.  (First in Science is an independent-expenditure-only PAC, commonly referred to as a Super PAC.  314 PAC and Franklin’s List are not.)

314 PAC came about after the unsuccessful primary campaign of Shaughnessy Naughton in 2014.  Naughton, a trained chemist, ran for Congress in part due to cuts in research funding and attacks on science.  She relied on her connections with other researchers, scientists and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professionals in her Pennsylvania community to raise money for her campaign.  She looks to use (and grow) that network through 314 PAC.

A major difference between 314 PAC and Franklin’s List is that only the latter is non-partisan.  314 is looking to support Democratic STEM candidates.  For the 2014 election it endorsed four candidates: Seth Moulton (Massachusetts’ 6th Congressional District), Representative Bill Foster (Illinois’ 14th Congressional District), Manan Trivedi (Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District) and Amanda Curtis (one of Montana’s Senate seats).  All of them have a STEM degree of some kind.  Two of the candidates – Moulton and Foster – won their races.

For me this raises a bit of a dilemma.  If there is to be a science PAC (or several), I would rather they be non-partisan.  I think gaining additional attention to science and technology matters is valuable, but I’d rather not see those matters become further entrenched with a specific party.  However, it does appear that the partisan PACs are more active, and perhaps more successful.

But I am neither a lawyer nor a political operative, so I could be wrong.  I’d appreciate any insights, and pointers to other science and technology-oriented PACs.

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