Thomas E. Lett, AIA
Jack C. Stewart, AIA
Alvin J. Cox, AIA
Thomas G. Fernandez, AIA
H. Carleton Godsey, FAIA
Joe Jones, AIA
David R. Proffitt, AIA
The KSA PAC informs and educates state legislators about issues affecting architects and Kentucky architecture.
AIA Kentucky constantly works to educate Kentucky legislators about the complicated issues surrounding the practice of architecture. These men and women look to their friends for support in gaining re-election. Through the PAC, AIA Kentucky tries to make fair and reasoned judgments about how to help the profession's friends return to the leadership positions from which they can support our issues.
The PAC supports the best candidates in the General Assembly.
Information on the candidates is gathered from as many sources as possible, including AIA Kentucky members. Candidates' familiarity with and sympathy for the profession's issues, as well as recommendations from AIA Kentucky’s legislative agent, are important factors in determining which campaigns the PAC will support.
The PAC raises funds with which to support candidates, conduct research, and disseminate information to legislators.
Whether working within a large or small firm or as a sole practitioner, every architect is affected by the laws formulated by the General Assembly. A single act could change many aspects of the profession. Within each legislative session, AIA Kentucky must review dozens of bills affecting the profession, determine the facts, define the profession's position, and provide a well-reasoned basis for that position. During the General Assembly, AIA Kentucky presents these positions to those representatives and senators with whom we have developed a relationship. Between sessions, AIA Kentucky presents those positions to the candidates and invites them to present their platforms to AIA members in legislative forums and in individual meetings. Working within this process, AIA Kentucky reinforces its positions with incumbents and establishes the framework for relationships with new candidates.
The Importance of a Political Action Committee
When you participate in the political arena, you learn to play both offense and defense. That’s why the AIA is involved in advocating and protecting the profession’s interest on key issues – like licensing, procurement, and tax issues.
We know that legislation and regulations affect your business and its bottom line. A Political Action Committee (PAC) allows architects the chance to build relationships and support our friends in the State House and Governor’s office. A PAC is an invaluable political tool that allows architects a greater opportunity to receive a fair hearing on issues and have a seat at the table when decisions are made. So, what do we need to do? Let’s face it, leadership in the political arena requires involvement. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves. So get active and form your state PAC today. There is no time to waste.
What is a Political Action Committee?
A political action committee, or PAC, is the most effective political tools available to AIA components. PACs allow AIA members to voluntarily band together to express support for legislators and candidates who have taken or likely will take positions that are compatible with the profession's interests. The PAC's purpose is to collect and distribute campaign contributions. But unlike personal or individual contributions, a check from a PAC carries a clear message on behalf of a large number of people, in our case the entire architectural profession. AIA National’s ArchiPAC provides financial support to candidates running for the United States Senate and House of Representatives. It is a non-partisan political action committee and exists through the voluntary contributions of AIA members. However, due to campaign finance laws ArchiPAC is prohibited from supporting candidates at the state or local level. That is why it is imperative for all AIA state components to establish a state PAC. A PAC is the single most important tool to augment an effective advocacy strategy.
What are some of the reasons that a PAC is important to components and AIA members?
Here are just a few of the reasons that come to mind:
A PAC allows architects to combine financial resources and express the collective interests of the profession in ways that are impossible with individual contributions.
Because architects do not often represent a huge voting bloc, a PAC can give the profession clout that exceeds its actual numbers.
A PAC allows the AIA to gain access to key legislators who may come from districts that do not contain many architect constituents. There are many powerful public officials from rural areas, for instance, with whom the AIA must establish relationships, and PACs are one way to achieve this.
They can serve as a way to get AIA members involved in the component's government affairs program without requiring a large investment of time on the part of the member. Contributors may be encouraged later to take a more active role through Minuteman programs and the like.
How are PAC funds used and what purpose do PAC disbursements serve?
PAC contributions are made fundamentally for three reasons:
It is important to remember that PAC contributions are made to build relationships; they are not attempts to buy votes. There can be no quid pro quo between a contribution and a specific vote on a particular issue. That would be illegal and unethical. Even so, there are many people who are uncomfortable with the idea of PACs, but unless laws governing campaigns are changed, they are indispensable tools that serve an integral role in an effective advocacy program.
Is a PAC really necessary?
The fact is, political campaigns are expensive, and candidates need and often expect financial support from their allies. Public policy is a competitive process and if architects want to have a strong voice in government, they have to participate in all aspects of the system.
What are the objectives of a state PAC?
Primarily a state PAC has the following 4 goals:
The profession has a great deal at stake in state government decisions. Examples include safeguarding the model procurement code and qualifications-based selection for A/E services, supporting a strong state building program, and ensuring the architect’s continued role in protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public.
PACs are one aspect of an overall strategy to influence government decisions and ensure the profession's voice is heard.
PACs are legitimate forms of expression well regulated by law and are merely a way for like-minded people to band together to support public officials with whom they agree.
PACs are not vote buying, and the AIA would never engage in illegal or corrupt activity.
The profession's adversaries are almost certainly going to be involved in political activity. The American political system is designed to sort out competing interests, and the AIA must be prepared to participate as part of its obligation as an organization made up of citizens.
Nothing about PACs prevent individuals from becoming involved in political activities on their own. In fact, contributors can designate their contribution to a candidate of their choosing. The PAC isn't a substitute for personal involvement; it's a supplement.
PAC contributions are often more potent than individual donations because the recipient understands exactly why he or she is receiving them.
The PAC is bipartisan and decisions about support are based solely on the candidate's position on the AIA's key issues. Individual architects should feel free to contribute to other candidates based on the issues that are important to them.
(Adapted from an article by Paul Mendelsohn, Director of State and Local Affairs for The American Institute of Architects.)