National Electrical Contractors Association

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NECAPAC FAQ

The National Electrical Contractors Association Political Action Committee of the National Electrical Contractors Association

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is NECA’s political action program?
  2. Can we contribute money to NECAPAC?
  3. Does NECAPAC accept cash, checks or credit cards for contributions?
  4. Are there limits on how much one person can contribute?
  5. Does a contributor to NECAPAC have to fill out a contribution form?
  6. Can an individual contribute to more than one political action committee?
  7. Can a chapter set up a “check off” plan so NECAPAC contributions may be automatically deducted from dues or service charges or can it send out an annual “NECAPAC statement” billing its members?
  8. Who can ask for contributions?
  9. Can a chapter send a check as a contribution pro-rated among its members?
  10. Can a chapter form its own federal PAC or a statewide PAC to contribute to federal candidates
  11. Can NECAPAC accept a contribution of funds from a chapter’s local or state PAC?
  12. Can NECAPAC accept contributions from an individual who is not affiliated with a NECA member?
  13. Can someone other than a U.S. citizen contribute to NECAPAC?
  14. Can NECAPAC receive anonymous cash contributions?
  15. How do you decide which candidates receive NECAPAC support?
  16. Does NECA contribute to contested primary campaigns?
  17. Does NECA contribute to only one party?
  18. Is there a maximum level of allowable PAC campaign contributions?
  19. Is there a minimum level allowable for PAC campaign contributions?
  20. Who hands out NECAPAC campaign contributions?
  21. Why is NECAPAC concentrating on getting more large contributions and not on getting many more small contributions from NECA members?
  22. What is NECAPAC doing to broaden the contributor base?
  23. Does distributing a premium as a “thank you” for large contributions take away funds that might be used better for political purposes?
  24. How does a chapter participate in the NECA Political Leadership Council?

Table of Federal PAC Contribution Limits

NECAPAC Campaign Contribution Policies and Practices

Frequently Asked Questions About NECA’s Political Action Program

  1. What is NECA’s political action program?

    NECA’s political action program collects individual personal contributions from NECA members and distributes those funds to worthwhile candidates for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. This work is carried out through the National Electrical Contractors Association Political Action Committee (NECAPAC), chartered as a “separate segregated” fund under NECA’s direction.

    NECAPAC is a federal, multi-candidate, political action committee. It is governed by federal law administered by the Federal Election Commission. Its federal status means that NECAPAC may not contribute to the campaigns of state or local candidates. Under its own Articles of Association, NECAPAC is not permitted to contribute to presidential campaigns.

  2. Can we contribute company money to NECAPAC?

    No. All contributions to federal candidates (President, Senate and House of Representatives) must be made with personal funds. This rule includes contributions made through political action committees (such as NECAPAC) which then contribute to federal candidates.

  3. Does NECAPAC accept cash, check or credit card for contributions?

    Yes. NECAPAC accepts cash, personal checks, Visa, Master Card, and American Express. NECAPAC also allows contribution pledges to be paid over 6 or 12 months.

  4. Are there limits on how much one person can contribute?

    Yes. An individual may contribute a maximum of $2,100 to any federal candidate for any single election and a maximum of $5,000 per year to any single political action committee. There is a $26,700 per year maximum on an individual’s overall contributions to federal candidates, PACs or party committees (see accompanying table).

  5. Does a contributor to NECAPAC have to fill out a contribution form?

    Yes. Federal law requires a political action committee to have a signed card listing the contributor’s name, home address, business, business address, title in the company and signature on file for each contribution, or to have made multiple “good faith” efforts to obtain that information.

  6. Can an individual contribute to more than one political action committee?

    Yes. Provided he or she does not exceed the $25,000 per year aggregate limit, there is no limit to the number of PACs to which an individual may contribute.

  7. Can a Chapter set up a “check-off” plan so NECAPAC contributions may be automatically deducted from dues and service charges or can it send out an annual “NECAPAC statement” billing its members?

    No. Federal law forbids business groups from using “check-off” plans. A “billing” scheme would be an illegal solicitation under federal law. Furthermore, funds received would be corporate funds and this would also be illegal.

  8. Who can ask for contributions?

    NECA national and chapter staff falls under a series of complex rules regarding solicitation. They must fulfill several difficult conditions before they can ask someone for a contribution to NECAPAC. NECA members, however, are not employees of NECA or NECAPAC, and are free to solicit contributions at will.

  9. Can a Chapter send a check as a contribution pro-rated among its members?

    Usually not. A Chapter is an incorporated entity, and is also considered an affiliate of NECA. Since it’s illegal to contribute corporate funds to a federal PAC, Chapter funds cannot be used. However, as an affiliate of NECA, a Chapter may act as a “collection agent,” accept personal contributions from its members, and forward them to NECAPAC in a single Chapter check.

    This is allowable provided that (a) the funds all were collected from individuals as personal checks or cash, and (b) the Chapter forwards a list of the individual contributors and all their required information along with the Chapter check. The Chapter may hold the required signatures on file. For NECAPAC’s record-keeping purposes, however, it is better if all of the individual contribution cards accompany the Chapter check.

  10. Can a Chapter form its own federal PAC or a statewide PAC to contribute to federal candidates?

    No. Chapters are considered affiliates of NECA. As such, the funds they raise and distribute for federal candidates would be considered as coming from NECAPAC itself. Contributions and campaign disbursement limits would be aggregated and any such local federal PACs would have to report to the FEC in conjunction with NECAPAC.

  11. Can NECAPAC accept a contribution of funds from a Chapter’s local or state PAC?

    Maybe. Most states (38 of 50) allow corporate contributions to state PACs and [political candidates. Because of federal restrictions on such funds, transfers of funds to NECAPAC from local PACs in those states where corporate contributions are legal are not allowable. However, in those 12 states which forbid corporate contributions locally, and unlimited amount of funds may be transferred.

  12. Can NECAPAC accept contributions from an individual who is not affiliated with a NECA member?

    Yes. While NECA and Chapter staff are prohibited from soliciting such contributions, if they are volunteered, they may be accepted. The same information and signature are required as for a NECA contractor.

  13. Can someone other than a United States citizen contribute to NECAPAC?

    No. Only U.S. citizens may contribute to federal political campaigns. Contributions from foreign sources are illegal.

  14. Can NECAPAC receive anonymous cash contributions?

    Yes. A PAC may accept anonymous cash contributions of up to $50. However, because anonymous contributions raise the level of Federal Election Commission (FEC) scrutiny they are not a good idea, and NECAPAC will not accept anonymous contributions for that reason.

  15. How do you decide which candidates receive NECAPAC support?

    Candidates may be selected to receive NECAPAC campaign funding support because of their overall record or stated position on a wide range of NECA issues. Others may be selected because of exceptional assistance on a single critical issue. Still others may be selected because they sit on key committees dealing frequently with issues of concern to electrical contractors.

    NECA asks all of its Chapters and members to submit names of the candidates they believe would be most helpful to NECA’s national legislative goals. Some Chapters recommend campaign contributions because they have a long-standing and productive relationship with the candidate. Some NECA members have close relationships with Members of Congress or with candidates who benefit their Chapter and the entire industry.

  16. Does NECA contribute to contested primary campaigns?

    Generally no. However, if a candidate in a primary has a close relationship with a Chapter or a NECA Member and if that candidate has a reasonable chance of success, he/she could be considered for NECAPAC support in the primary.

  17. Does NECAPAC contribute only to one party?

    No. Candidates for campaign support are judged on a wide variety of criteria relating to their potential value in achieving the legislative goals of the electrical construction industry. Party affiliation is not one of those criteria.

  18. Is there a maximum level of allowable PAC campaign contributions?

    Yes. A PAC is limited to a maximum contribution to a candidate of $5,000 per election. In most election cycles (2 years for the House of Representatives, 6 years for the Senate) that would mean allowable contributions of $5,000 for a primary and $5,000 for a general election. In cases of a special election or run-off election this would allow the PAC an additional maximum contribution of $5,000 for each.

  19. Is there a minimum level for allowable PAC campaign contributions?

    No. However, the primary reasons for contributing to a candidate are to help get that candidate elected and to gain the candidate’s attention to begin to develop a productive, beneficial relationship. Small contributions do little to further either objective. Because of this, NECAPAC has set its own limits: a minimum contribution of $1,000 for a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and a minimum of $2,000 for a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Special circumstances may occasionally modify these lower limits, but they generally apply.

  20. Who hands out NECAPAC campaign contributions?

    One objective of a political action program is to develop a long-term relationship between a national legislator and his own NECA constituency. To develop these relationships, NECA encourages Chapters to make check presentations in the candidates’ states or Congressional districts. Chapter officers are urged to make check presentations at a Chapter meeting, if possible, or to have Chapter officers make the presentation at the Congressman’s state or local office.

    At other times, it may be appropriate for NECA’s government affairs staff to make check presentations in Washington in order to further that ongoing working relationship. Whenever both forms of presentation are desirable as a strategy, a contribution may be split with part presented by the Chapter and part presented at the national level.

  21. Why is NECAPAC concentrating on getting more large contributions and not on getting many more small contributions from NECA members?

    Actually NECAPAC is concentrating on both expanding the number of “entry level” Contributors and the number of large contributions. NECAPAC is actively seeking to broaden its contribution base. Currently, about 20% of NECA members participate in the political action program.

    Realistically, achieving even a 50% participation rate among the membership - at even the basic $100 level - would be an immense achievement. That is why large contributions remain so tremendously important. One individual contributing $5,000 generates the same amount as 50 individuals giving $100 - both are essential to expanding NECA’s $1 million-plus political action program.

  22. What is NECAPAC doing to broaden the contributor base?

    NECA is allowed by law to send two sample solicitations each year to every NECA accredited representative.

    • Twice annually NECA takes advantage of this by sending solicitation materials to every NECA accredited representative with a cover letter from the current NECA President. This helps build the base of contributors with smaller contributions.
    • NECAPAC provides raffle prizes that encourage $100 contributors at Regional and District meetings. This also helps to broaden the contribution base.

      In forming NECA’s new Political Leadership Council, the role of small contributors was considered at length. That is why there is a provision for any Chapter to be able to contribute at a specified level in order to designate a member as representative to The Council.

    • One of the conditions is that the Chapter generates contributions to NECAPAC of $100 or more from at least 50% of its members, or the equivalent.
  23. Does distributing a premium as a “thank you” for large contributions take away funds that might be used better for political purposes?

    No. NECA has experimented with eliminating premiums. It has also tried fund raising at regional meetings without raffle prizes. In both cases, the contribution total to NECAPAC dropped well below the cost of the premiums. This showed that premiums are a cost-effective part of the fund-raising process. Of course, individual contributors are welcome to decline the offered premium.

  24. How does a Chapter participate in the NECA Political Leadership Council?

A Chapter must generate personal contributions to NECAPAC equivalent to gifts of $2,500 from the Chapter Governor, $1,000 from the Chapter President, $500 from each Chapter Board Member, and $100 from each of the remaining Chapter Members. This aggregate total must include contributions of at least $100 from at least 50% of the Chapter’s Members as listed in the current edition of The NECA Book.

Federal Campaign Contribution Limits **

Donor Type

Recipients

Candidate Committee

PAC

Local or State Party Committees

National Party Committees

Special Limits

Individual

$2,100* per election

$5,000 per year

$10,000 per year combined limit

$26,700* per year

$95,000* per year overall limit ($37,500* to all candidates; $57,500 to all PACs and parties)

PAC (multi-candidate)

$5,000 per election

$5,000 per year

$5,000 per year combined limit

$15,000 per year

* to be indexed for inflation

** limitations on contributions to state and local candidates differ from federal rules; most states (38) allow corporate contributions; allowable dollar limits vary greatly from state to state; state PACs cannot transfer money to federal PACs unless their state is one of those few which forbid corporate contributions

NECAPAC Campaign Contribution Policies and Practices

The National Electrical Contractors Association Political Action Committee of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECAPAC) is a separate segregated fund operating under federal law governing political action organizations. It was established in 1979 to collect funds and disburse campaign contributions to candidates for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

The primary NECAPAC objective is to use funds to elect and support Members of Congress whose political philosophy or position within the legislature are in support of NECA’s legislative objectives. A secondary objective is to use candidate selection and fund disbursement procedures in a manner that maximizes the interaction of NECA chapters and members with their national legislators.

NECAPAC Policies

Candidate Support Selection Criteria

Candidates receiving NECAPAC support should meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Have a legislative record or public policy statements substantially in support of NECA’s legislative objectives.
  • Have a close productive working relationship with NECA chapters in his/her state or legislative district.
  • Be recommended by a NECA chapter or a NECA member with substantial chapter concurrence.
  • Be a key player supportive of NECA’s position on an active legislative issue.
  • Be a key member of a Congressional committee dealing with active legislative issues of concern to NECA.
  • Be a member of the Senate or House leadership.
  • Have ties to NECA or the IBEW which have led to a fuller, more sympathetic understanding of the electrical construction industry’s needs and objectives.

Chapter and Member Involvement

The following policies on campaign disbursements have been established to assure maximum chapter and member participation in the political process:

  • NECA chapters and members will regularly be queried for their suggestions and input in the selection of candidates to be receive NECAPAC support.
  • Where a candidate has been recommended for support by staff or an individual NECA member, the involved chapter (for a Representative) or a representative number of chapters in a state (for a Senator) will be advised of the proposed contribution to assure that it is compatible with local chapter interests.
  • If at all possible, the chapter will be offered the opportunity to present the check to the candidate locally, in his/her state or district.
  • Once a candidate has received support in an election cycle and been vetted by a chapter, checking with the chapter on additional contributions will not be required; however, if at all possible, the chapter still will be invited to present the check.
  • Members of NECA’s District 10 in the state or district where a check is being presented will be invited to take part in the presentation.

Conflicting Contributions

Because it is inconsistent with NECAPAC’s goals, is counter-productive and is a waste of valuable resources, NECAPAC has adopted a policy of not contributing to more than a single candidate in a contested election. (NECAPAC doesn’t give to candidates on both sides of a race.)

Other Principles Guiding Contribution Selection

Incumbents

Incumbent members of the House of Representatives are statistically overwhelming favorites for re-election, with over a 95% success rate. In the Senate the success rate is lower closer to 70%, but incumbency remains a major advantage. Accordingly, it is anticipated that a majority of NECAPAC funds will be contributed to incumbent House and Senate members who meet the candidate criteria previously set forth.

Challengers

Despite the advantages of incumbency, there are sometimes races where the candidate challenging the incumbent may offer a significant attractive opportunity, and merit NECAPAC support. NECA needs to be alert to such select opportunities.

Open Seats

Open-seat races offer the greatest opportunity to achieve a close productive relationship with a candidate. Early and strong support for a candidate running for an open seat can produce the kind of close, long-term relationship that is mutually beneficial to both NECA and the candidate if successful.

Such races must be carefully evaluated for the chance of success. If there is a reasonable chance for victory, the maximum possible contributions should be considered. While the winning percentage in such races will not be as high as in support for incumbents, the opportunity is so great that it merits the greater risk.

Primary Elections

Unless there is an overriding reason for supporting one candidate over another in a contested primary, support for candidates in such races should be avoided.

Timing Candidate Support

Campaigning in the House of Representatives used to a be three-month affair every two years. Today it goes on constantly from the day after a candidate is elected until the next election. For incumbent Senators, campaigning begins as far out as four years from the election.

Because campaigning now takes place over such extended periods, campaign support generally should be spread out over the entire period. Very early giving can be quite productive. However, changing political winds over such a long period of time can change the attractiveness or electability of a candidate. Furthermore, some candidates have been known to make last-minute decisions to retire or pull out of a race in which case any early money spent on contributions is lost.

Continuing Support

If a candidate has received NECAPAC support and has proved to be the kind of candidate that was anticipated by that support he/she needs to receive continued support in future election races. Since the objective of NECAPAC support is to elect candidates which whom NECA can develop long-term ties, the continuation of campaign support in future elections as well as ongoing staff, chapter and member contact is extremely important.

Levels of Support

Many election races are closely contested. Larger contributions invested in such races can pay big dividends. However, there are also many races where a long-time incumbent Senator or Representative is uncontested or has only token opposition. Support for candidates in such “easy” races should still be continued, but the level of support can be scaled back appropriate to the difficulty of the race. It should be noted, however, that even for candidates in such “easy” races, larger contributions can bring more recognition to the contributor.

“Leadership” PACs

Several years ago well-funded incumbents in their party’s leadership began to establish so-called “leadership PACs”. These were PACs run by the incumbent, and were used to collect and disburse money to other candidates selected by him/her. This created a “debts and favors-owed” situation that allowed a party leader to dispense favors and expand the support for his continued leadership.

With the enactment of campaign finance reform, many former sources of large-scale campaign funding have been cut off. This has encouraged a new proliferation of “leadership PACs” among all Members of Congress.

PAC campaign contributions are limited to $5,000 per candidate per election. However, PACs can also give to other PACs. NECAPAC may give the maximum $5,000 per election per cycle to a candidate directly. But if the candidate also has a “leadership PAC”, NECAPAC could contribute up to an additional $5,000 a year to that PAC. Funds from a leadership PAC may not be used by the Member who controls it for his own re-election. On the other hand, if Candidates A and B each have leadership PACs, Candidate A can give Candidate B $5,000 per election from his leadership PAC, while Candidate B can return the favor from his own leadership PAC.

Because contributions to leadership PACs mean that NECA has no control over the ultimate recipient of NECAPAC funds, it has taken a dim view of them and has refused to contribute to them. However, if their proliferation continues, and if they become a significant part of the campaign process, that position may have to be revisited in the future.

Party Campaign Committees

In addition to individual campaigns, NECAPAC contributes annually to Republican and Democratic party congressional campaign funds established as “national party committees”. These are treated differently and have higher contribution limits than individual candidate races. They include the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. NECAPAC contributions to these funds provide access for NECA to key briefings, meetings and leadership functions.

Summary

NECAPAC has implemented campaign contribution policies and principles designed to elect candidates to the House and Senate who are supportive and/or important factors in achieving NECA’s legislative goals. At the same time, these policies have been crafted to establish long-term involved, productive relationships between elected Members of Congress and the NECA chapters and members that they represent. As such, NECA’s political action effort plays a critically important role in the Association’s overall government affairs program.

 

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