The acronym, PAC, shows up regularly in local, regional, and political news. But what is a PAC? What is a SuperPAC? Most importantly, why does the AQHA have a PAC?
The initials stand for Political Action Committee, an organized effort to raise money to support a particular political candidate or legislative initiative in order to move forward a specific agenda. Guidance and regulation differ significantly for the two types of PACs, but both can trace their origins to an effort in 1944 by the Congress of Industrial Organizations to support the re-election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Federal Election Laws dictate that PAC funds given to candidates must be kept apart from other funds, and PAC donations may only come from United States citizens. Under the regulations enacted by the Federal Elections Committee, PACs must follow strict guidelines. PAC donations to primary, general, or special election candidates are capped at $5,000 per year. A PAC may also give a maximum of $5,000 to another PAC or $15,000 to a national party committee in a given year. SuperPACs have no such limits, but they are not allowed to contribute to or engage directly with parties or candidates, and the AQHA does not participate in SuperPACs.
In 2003, AQHA leadership initiated the idea of an AQHPAC that would support and promote public policy and advocacy related to issues affecting AQHA members, equine-related businesses, equine welfare, and land use for equestrian activities. Ward Stutz, Director of Breed Integrity, Animal Welfare, and Education at AQHA, is responsible for public policy within the AQHPAC. He explains, “Although the strategic plan and initial conversations about an AQHPAC started in 2003, the AQHPAC was launched in 2005. AQHA Directors thought it was a positive move for the AQHA to contribute to members of Congress who align with AQHA’s policies. The AQHA PAC is supported by donations primarily raised at the annual AQHA Convention from AQHA members who must be U.S. citizens.”
“Recently, the Executive Committee approved a PAC disbursement strategy. The strategy focuses on PAC expenditures supporting key members of Congress on committees having jurisdiction on issues affecting the horse industry.”
The committees of jurisdiction include: