Propane PAC needs help to fuel political change

March 1, 2004 By    

Political action committees (PACs) were created by congressional legislation in 1944. They are usually adjunct organizations of trade association and interest groups. PACs are created to: 1) raise money to donate to political candidates and office holders, 2) keep PAC members informed of political and regulatory issues that affect their interests, and 3) keep PAC members informed of positions on legislation and regulation by politicians. PACs can be national in focus, monitoring and donating to congressional representatives throughout the country, or they may confine their activities to the political environment of a specific state.

PACs are regulated and monitored by federal or state election commissions. They must follow rigid rules on the amounts and methods by which they may raise and donate money to political candidates. Money can be raised in two forms: direct or “hard” donations, which can only be given by individuals so the PAC can donate to political candidates, and administrative or “soft money,” which can be given by individuals or other organizations (corporations, interest groups, etc.). “Soft” money is used to help operate the PAC.

The National Propane Gas Association formed its political action committee, Propane PAC, in 1990. Propane PAC’s scope is national, working to monitor and support congressional candidates who promote the positions of the propane industry. Propane PAC is governed by a chairman and a steering committee with representatives from the 10 NPGA districts. The steering committee helps raise money and determines how Propane PAC money is given to political candidates. To assist the Propane PAC volunteers, NPGA has a full-time staff person to coordinate fund-raising activities and complete FEC reporting.

With the help of Propane PAC donations, the propane gas industry has achieved major legislative victories (PERC, RMP, truck regulation, etc) in the past five years. Despite these successes, there are many legislative and regulatory battles to be waged (national energy policy, national security, pipeline and truck regulation) in the future.

In 2003, Propane PAC raised about $125,000 in hard money and $47,000 in soft money from 210 contributors. By contrast, the Trial Lawyers of America raised $1.4 million and the Compressed Gas Association raised $200,000.

Propane PAC has set a goal of raising $200,000 before the 2004 elections Nov. 2. That sounds like, and is, a lot of money, but think of it this way: There are about 200,000 people employed in the propane industry. If everyone – from the plant man repairing tanks, to the warehouse person filling regulator orders to the accountant preparing financial statements to the presidents operating propane companies – each donated one dollar to Propane PAC, our $200,000 goal would be achieved.

Politics is a business. The business of politics consists not only of making laws but also getting re-elected to office. NPGA staff and volunteer members have spent countless hours meeting with congressional representatives and their staffs, educating them about the propane industry and the legislative and regulatory issues that affect us. Who do you think gets listened to longer, the organization with $125,000 to donate or the organization with $1.4 million?

National elections are less than eight months away. If you have made a PAC contribution this year, thank you. If you haven’t, contact Ryan Carroll at 202-466-7200 or and do so today. With your help we can ensure that NPGA remains competitive in the business of politics – send your Propane PAC contributions today.

P.S. If you choose to also support congressional candidates with direct personal contributions, it is very important you make sure the candidate knows you’re a member of the propane industry and are very concerned about issues that affect the propane industry.

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