Dozens of local political action committees (PACs) are up and running in this election season, and local businesses as well as major corporations are finding them a viable vehicle for influencing public policy and supporting candidates who best represent their industry or interests. “Being able to be involved in the political process through a political action committee is unbelievable when it comes to your ability to impact public policy,” says Russell Smoldon, CEO of B3 Strategies, a government relations and public affairs affiliate launched last year by the law firm Jennings, Strouss & Salmon.
Smoldon, who has represented local businesses such as SRP and Phoenix Children’s Hospital, says a business of any size can benefit from utilizing a PAC. Shares Jack Erb, assistant superintendent of Western Maricopa Education Center, “Compared to some of the bigger businesses, West-MEC still isn’t entirely known, so we used a PAC to raise money for things that needed to be done in the public school district.”
PACs also serve to educate business owners and employees of current political actions that impact them, whether positively or negatively, as well as inform legislators of actions being taken in favor of or against their own. “You just can’t believe how many times you’re impacted negatively by some action a politician has taken and you didn’t even know it was coming,” says Smoldon.
There are, currently, numerous existing PACs tailored to fit and adhere to certain ideals. Businesses wanting to join one but not finding a perfect match may create their own. The first step is to name the PAC. The PAC must then be registered with the Federal Election Commission. The PAC can raise and contribute money to candidates and parties who push issues important to the PAC, and must document every donation and contribution.