A PAC Can Make a Difference

Robert C. Keaton
Robert C. Keaton

By Bob Keaton,
Senior Associate, Bigley and Blikle, LLC

In 2015 the Pennsylvania State budget took almost a year to approve and a lot of the discussion was on raising taxes and developing more regulations on business. This could happen in any of our States.

Given this environment, now is a good time to assess what government is doing for you – or to you – as the case may be.

This is probably even a better opportunity to ask how many regulations are impacting your business. In fact, regulations is one of the top issues as polled by the National Federation of Independent Business (impacting small business on a state and federal level.) What the government does can make a difference in your bottom line and how you operate on a day-to-day basis. This is a good time to increase your presence and start to engage a political action committee (PAC).

If you are like a lot of people, the first thing you say to yourself is: “Why help them when they never help me?”

The primary reason for forming a PAC is to help support and elect those candidates who are like-minded with your business in their views on government policy and those who believe in your issues – those who have actively championed your view in the past, as well as those who are new to the process and understand your goals.

Political Action Committees were created as a reaction to Watergate in the 1970s. As a result, federal and state laws and regulations were enacted to curb campaign fraud and misappropriation of funds.

I am sure you have asked yourself many times: How did this regulation become policy? Or how did this law get passed?

During the process of reviewing legislation or a regulation it is important to have legislators engaged who have your back or you might find a law or regulation passed that you did not see coming. Why? If a lawmaker is not aware there is a problem or if they do not have the ear of a friend, then they will not know this is an issue.

Bad laws and policy happen when people and organizations are not engaged in the process.

Business depends on electing candidates of either party who understand the importance of supporting business in your State, and that depends on political action.

The political and legal challenges PIADA faces in Harrisburg have a far greater impact on the future of your business than any single issue. The same is true for the Maryland and Delaware chapters or our tri-State trade association and for NJIADA and NYIADA.

A primary reason for contributing to a PAC is something they say often in Washington, DC: “You are either sitting at the table or on the menu.”

You cannot effectuate policy if you are not at the table making policy. The only way you can sit at the table is to make a connection with the policymakers who can help you get to the table.

This is why being engaged and involved with a political action committee is so very important to organizations like our MidAtlantic trade associations that are so dependent on knowledgeable and informed lawmakers.