Arkansas Trucking Association

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The Last Word

Strength in Numbers

By Mitchell Lowe, Guest Writer

Most Americans have heard of political action committees, or PACs, but couldn’t tell you the first thing about them—except that they’re evil. Their malicious image is largely the result of negative press and the wide- spread demonization of special interest groups in the political process.

The fact is PACs, in one form or another, have been around since the advent of free elections…and they’re here to stay. Simply put, PACs are the joining together of individuals with common interests to achieve a goal. Today PACs should be components of the overall legislative and political strategy of any entity (company, trade association, etc.) that finds itself subject to the whims of a regulatory body.

Federal PACs, those regulated by the federal government and focused on objectives and obstacles at the national level, are particularly necessary because the Federal Election Campaign Act
(FECA) strictly prohibits corporations and trade associations from using general treasury funds to make contributions or expenditures in connection with federal elections.

 State PACs, those regulated by the various states, are generally less restrictive when it comes to the funds from corporations. In Arkansas, corporations and trade associations are allowed to make contributions, subject to statutory limitations, to state political campaigns and state PACs.

Tax-exempt trade and professional organizations, such as the Arkansas Trucking Association, often establish PACs to educate policymakers, promote advocacy efforts and financially support public officials and political candidates who are likely to be supportive of the organization’s agenda.

PACs operated by associations are funded by voluntary contributions from members, eligible employees and their families. Those PACs must be maintained and operated completely apart from the organization’s general treasury.
There is most definitely strength in numbers. And there is most definitely an advantage that comes with being recognized by elected leaders in Washington or Little Rock as being a part of a vibrant and active PAC.

Organizations that establish this sort of recognition often get more and better access to elected officials. This doesn’t mean they suddenly possess the power to force votes one way or another. It simply means their likelihood of being able to shape the debate and influence the way in which legislators think about a particular issue will increase. Organizations without this type of access are often left behind.

The first sentence in the Arkansas Trucking Association’s mission statement is “Protect the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.” There are many factors that ultimately contribute to doing this successfully, and maintaining a strong PAC simply must be among those factors.

The PAC naysayers will always be there with their often-hysterical charges: that PACs buy votes, control elections or otherwise corrupt the political system. These charges are unfounded and based in ignorance.

Virtually all impartial data in this area strongly suggests that the vast majority of legislators cast their votes on the basis of ideological orientation, political party affiliation and, primarily, on the needs and desires of their constituents back home.

In response to the charge that PACs control elections, all one has to do is remember that PAC money is nothing more than voluntary contributions from a group of individuals who have decided to pool their political contributions with other like-minded individuals to maximize its voice. PAC money impacts elections, but it certainly does not control them.


Mitchell Lowe is a political consultant and a partner with Capitol Advisors Group in Little Rock, Arkansas. He can be reached at mitchelllowe@capitoladvisorsgroup.com

Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
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