Aftermarket Insider Issue 76 - (Page 17)
PACs: A Critical Tool in AAIA’s Government Affairs Efforts
For most associations, the ingredients of a strong government affairs program includes three basic elements: a large number of active members willing to contact their legislator; a strong lobbyist team in Washington, D.C.; and a well-funded Political Action Committee (PAC). Probably the least understood of these three components is the PAC which these days is associated with unfair corporate influence in Washington, D.C. However, as long as legislators need money to get elected, PACs are going to continue to be a way of life in the nation’s capital. The following is a brief explanation of PACs — such as AAIA’s Automotive Aftermarket Political Action Committee (AAPAC); how they operate; and, of course, why it is important for associations and businesses to consider participating in their funding.
Many members ask why funding for political candidates does not come from the association’s treasury since government affairs is a key reason they pay dues.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a political action committee is “an organization that raises money privately to influence elections or legislation, particularly at the federal level.” The key word in this definition is “influence,” and the
varied context that can apply. Many trade associations have a PAC that is open to contribution from their membership (under specific Federal Election Commission guidelines) for the simple purpose of contributing to the election of legislators that are friendly to their industry (in AAIA’s case, the automotive aftermarket). Most organizations are solicited regularly by (re)election committees or election consultants and AAIA receives several solicitations every day. AAIA staff, with input from members, plan carefully and support legislators for re-election that are friends of the automotive aftermarket or who are critical to the success of our legislative initiatives. These funds also support up-and-coming legislators from state legislatures that have been friendly to our industry. Many members ask why funding for political candidates does not come from the association’s treasury since government affairs is a key reason they pay dues. The answer is that under federal law, all contributions to federal candidates (Representatives, Senators and yes, the President of the United States) must come from
personal money. In fact, many AAIA members contribute personal money on a regular basis because they recognize the importance of electing candidates to federal office that understand the importance of the vehicle aftermarket to the economy and to the mobility of their constituents. The simple truth is that a well-funded PAC works hand-in-hand with a strong grassroots organization, providing a strong “toolbox” for the association to utilize to accomplish its legislative goals. However, unlike what you might have heard, the use of a PAC does not really influence votes. Instead, PAC contributions help ensure the election or re-election of candidates that support the association’s goals. It may only be one element of AAIA’s government affairs program; however, based on the skyrocketing cost of campaigns, it is becoming a much more critical tool AAIA needs to use as part of its efforts to help support our industry. For additional information on AAPAC, contact Paul Fiore at paul.fiore@ aftermarket.org, call 301-654-6664 or visit http://www.aftermarket. org/Government/AAPAC.aspx.
AFTERMARKET INSIDER | VOLUME 76 | 17
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Aftermarket Insider Issue 76
Aftermarket Insider Issue 76
Aftermarket Insider Issue 76