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PRINT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE — NEW LEADERS OF THE PAC

June 2006 BY ERIK CAGLE
Senior Editor
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WRITING A check, unless it’s made out to ‘cash,’ your nephew (who just graduated from college) or the dealership that just sold you that speedboat, can be a difficult thing. All too often, check writing is an unpleasant experience, a necessary evil.

It’s a fact of life. Bills. Groceries. Back surgeries. There’s never a lack of incidentals vying to reduce your current balance, and some seem to provide hardly any value at all.

It comes as little surprise that, especially during a sluggish economy or generally slow period for any industry, supporting a Political Action Committee (PAC) with funds from your own personal resources can be a tough call. Contributing money to the campaigns of those who have supported issues that are important to you, and your industry, is a noble gesture that needs to be done. But like cleaning out the gutters, it is a task easily forgotten.

In the case of PIA/GATF members, supporting PrintPAC has been an activity that fewer and fewer people are bothering to perform. In fact, the amount of funds generated for PrintPAC has declined in each of the last three two-year election cycles.

At the height of the dotcom blitz in 1998, PrintPAC reached an all-time high of $237,000 in contributions. That figure dwindled to $209,000 in 2000, $154,000 in 2002 and $147,000 in 2004. Thus, in eight years, PrintPAC stands in danger of seeing contributions fall by $100,000.

Renewed Energy

However, a revitalized effort is under way to breathe new life into PrintPAC, which includes some new faces, fresh ideas and a renewed commitment to good old-fashioned elbow grease.

New to the PrintPAC team are Lisbeth Lyons, the vice president of government affairs for the PIA/GATF. She took the helm in January, replacing respected industry veteran and PrintPAC founder Ben Cooper. Reporting to Lyons is Shannon Frack, grassroots and political affairs manager. Frack brings PAC experience to the fold, having worked on a $900,000 per cycle association effort for the Independent Community Bankers of America.

While the pair may be relatively short on printing industry experience, their ability to raise both funds and awareness for a given industry’s political ideology and needs are vital to the rebirth of PrintPAC.

“Fundraising is difficult if you don’t have dedicated PAC management. The most effective ones have at least one person, if not two or three people, working on all elements of fundraising, from promotions to invoicing,” Lyons says. “When you don’t have staff dedicated to this function, it falls on your lobbyists, whose first priority should be Capitol Hill. Invariably, the fundraising takes a back seat.”
 

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