government affairs blog
I want to congratulate the newest recipients of the AAIA Ambassador’s Award. Corey Bartlett from the Automotive Parts Headquarters and Tom Perry of MMM-Marketing LLC were both presented with the prestigious award during Fall Leadership Days last week in Dallas, Texas. The Ambassador’s Award is presented to AAIA members that have given more than $3,000 to the Automotive Aftermarket Political Action Committee (AAPAC) since its inception. Recipients of this award, and there are 20 of them, represent individuals that have shown a strong commitment to the AAPAC and the AAIA government affairs program.
I should also congratulate all of the supporters of AAPAC. With their help, the association has doubled the size of AAPAC since 2011. The commitment of our members to AAPAC has permitted us to support candidates for Congress that are either strong supporters of the automotive aftermarket or are in key positions of leadership. Having a strong PAC makes our legislative team more effective in moving the association’s legislative agenda, whether it’s passage of Right to Repair, tax reform or of e-fairness legislation.
I understand the difficulty that members of our industry experience in giving to the PAC. The money must come from the individual employee of an AAIA member and cannot be corporate funds. In today’s economy, that is not always easy. However, the fact that so many of the employees of our members and the AAIA staff give generously to the PAC indicate their strong commitment to the future of the association and our industry. The AAIA government affairs staff appreciates the support we have received from the membership, whether it’s a member of the 365 Club (a dollar a day) or someone who has given the legal maximum of $5,000. They are all important components in making our PAC a more powerful tool for our government affairs program.
However, we have to be realistic, and while AAPAC continues to grow, it has a long way to go to compare with the political action committees supported by our competitors on Capitol Hill. The National Automotive Dealers Association currently has a PAC that raised a whopping $4,736,578 in the last fundraising cycle, while AAPAC raised about $78,000. We may never reach the numbers generated by the dealers, but clearly our PAC still needs to grow if it is to gain some clout on Capitol Hill.
If you are interested in learning more about AAPAC, go to http://www.autocare.org/Government-Affairs/aapac/.
Although there is a slightly humorous connotation to this title, your AAIA government affairs department takes the AAPAC very seriously. The fact is that we cannot lobby effectively on your behalf without it. Simply put, our political action committee (PAC) funds are used to attend the fundraisers for your senators and representatives that help promote and protect the well-being of the automotive aftermarket. The PAC allows us to reach out to them in smaller settings and deliver the aftermarket perspective on a one-on-one basis. These scenarios play out regularly, all year long, and ensure that your concerns are given the full weight they deserve.
The funds also play an important role in helping legislators get elected that share AAIA’s position on issues of concern to our industry. Campaigns these days are expensive and there is constant pressure on candidates to raise money in order to get elected or re-elected. Funds from PACs are a critical element of a candidate’s fundraising efforts and, with sufficient funding, PACs have the ability to help candidates that are supportive of policies that positively impact their industry.
By the way, during the lead-up to the 2012 election, the press inundated us, on an almost daily basis, with articles, blogs, posts and broadcasts about “Super PACs.” The Super PACs are usually formed to bundle millions of dollars that are donated anonymously, and are used to unilaterally support a candidate or issue. Let’s be clear about this: there is no relationship between a Super PAC and a trade association PAC.
Now back to our own business -- you may have noticed an increase in PAC fundraising activity by the associations over the past few years. The truth is, AAIA is up against organizations that are operating with PACs that are anywhere from two to 10 times the size of ours. We have been pretty successful despite the fundraising prowess of our opponents, due to the efforts of members in letting elected officials know of their positions on issues important to their bottom line. However, it is an uphill battle and our industry’s political power would be considerably strengthened if its PAC was better funded.
To that end, AAIA has invested significantly in revamping the PAC section of our Government Affairs website, and we now offer members the ability to seek approval to be solicited for AAPAC contributions electronically through the new site. This option also makes this process easier for AAIA members to contribute to the PAC. The site even has a link to answers questions about compliance.
Watch for new announcements about our AAPAC efforts, and in the meantime, please take a look at the site and let us know if you have any questions or concerns. You can direct your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this week our government affairs team launched this new website. Our hope was to create a valuable tool to assist both us and our members in our ongoing mission to accelerate AAIA’s political advocacy efforts. With more than 23,000 members, large and small, and at every level of the supply chain, our association remains poised to make a huge impact in political engagement. However, the success of any association’s legislative and regulatory initiatives begins with you, the members of the association. Your commitment to making your voice heard by members of Congress on issues that we care about as an industry is what will help advance our collective interests here in Washington, D.C.
While you will see a lot of the same information that was available on our former site, including issue briefs, our Capital Report newsletter and links to key government agencies, hopefully you will notice the major changes to the grassroots and political action committee sections, which have been entirely revamped to make engaging in our advocacy efforts not only easier, but more rewarding.
Our new “Become an Advocate” section offers users the ability to find their state and federal legislators and contact them about a specific issue relating to your business. The heart of the new website is the newly-energized Legislative Action Center. While the center will still permit members to send letters on issues of importance to the industry, it also will be the place to go for members who want to be key advocates in advancing the industry’s legislative agenda. Key advocates will service as the go-to members that can be counted on to make contact with legislators if an issue comes up that requires immediate attention. Our hope is to encourage as many members as possible show their commitment by becoming an advocate, and then provide us with both the action and knowledge necessary to achieve a certain advocacy goal.
The Automotive Aftermarket Political Action Committee (AAPAC) has been an important facet of our legislative efforts on Capitol Hill for many years, but our competitors continue to outraise us by a wide margin, thus allowing them additional access to key legislators. We have ambitious goals for AAPAC in the coming years, but we will not achieve them without the backing of our members. The new site not only provides more information on why AAPAC is critical to our industry’s future, but will make it easier for our members to participate.
Finally, state legislative initiatives impacting our industry continue to grow. The new website provides an easy way to easy way to keep track of state legislation relevant to the aftermarket. Check out the map on the State Legislative page to see what state legislation that we are tracking and their status in their respective legislature. We will continue to develop this feature, including adding subcategories of “topic” and “priority,” to ensure that our members can conveniently benefit from it on a regular basis.
Our team has set lofty goals for our advocacy program and this website will provide us and our members the necessary jumping-off point to move forward. Of course, we took on this redesign project to make it easier for our members to get involved in our efforts so please feel free to contact any one of us with recommendations on how we can improve the site. We appreciate your support and commitment to keeping the aftermarket an active and thriving industry.