Most associations are involved in advocacy work; as such, association leaders and staff members spend time meeting and educating congressional members or their staff on the issues important to their membership. Being able to contribute to Congressional member’s campaigns provides a higher level of access if coordinated with related events that offer an opportunity to speak directly to the member. Many organizations form a separate segregated fund, commonly referred to as a Political Action Committee (PAC) to achieve this purpose. Corporations by themselves are not able to make political contributions pursuant to the Federal Election Campaign Act.
However, by establishing a PAC, associations can receive contributions from their members that can be used to contribute to a candidate’s campaigns. Some of the rules for establishing a PAC can be found here. Not sure how to form a PAC, visit this article and check out the National Association of Business Political Action Committees’ website.
PACS are considered by many to be the cleanest form of campaign donation, as specific records of donors and contributions are required to be maintained by the Federal Election Commission. On websites like this, you can find all sorts of publicly available information on candidates, donors, and other relevant information. As might be expected, many of the largest PACs in the country are Association PACs. Here is a list of current PACS, including the two largest.
Once you have decided to form a PAC, Craig Purser of the National Beer Wholesalers Association suggests one of the critical areas to address is who will your PAC contribute to. Consider the following:
Many groups regularly bombard members of Congress and their staff, establishing a PAC may elevate your voice above the fray. Please contact Aronson Partner Craig Stevens at 301.231.6200, if you would like to discuss your specific situation.