As Jonah notes, John Hawkins does important work here detailing how PACs spend their money, and how much — and in some cases, how little — ended up being spent on independent expenditures & direct contributions to elect their preferred candidates.
Defenders of these groups have a perfectly legitimate point that there are a lot of ways to advance a cause beyond passing the money along to candidates. But it’s disingenuous to contend Hawkins isn’t being fair. All of the data he cites is from public filings, and Hawkins writes that he reached out to all of these groups to give them a chance to respond; “a little less than half of the PACs replied.” You can’t say “no comment” and then complain that an article didn’t show your side of the story.
Will the donors to these PACs think their donations were well spent?
Or are the donors to some of these groups the ones most inclined to believe any criticism of their spending is a plot by “the Establishment”?