SAA PAC/SAA Direct
In 2003, the SAA Legislative Committee created SAA PAC, which is supported by members of all four SAA member associations, to strengthen the identity of the SAA and to improve the management of our combined political activities. SAADirect, the SAA’s conduit, was formed in 2006 to provide SAA members with another opportunity for political involvement. The SAA Legislative Committee believes that SAA PAC and SAADirect are vitally important to our objective of establishing a comprehensive giving program designed to strengthen our relationships with lawmakers and influence legislation. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about SAA PAC and SAADirect:
What is SAA PAC?
SAA PAC is the SAA’s political action committee (PAC). A PAC is any political committee consisting of at least two individuals, other than a candidate committee or a political party committee, which receives contributions, distributes funds, or incurs obligations for the purpose of influencing the election or defeat of candidates to state or local office. SAA PAC funds are used for campaign contributions designed to help reelect “friends of public education,” strengthen our relationships with key legislators and, ultimately, to influence legislation. SAA PAC is a registered political action committee in Wisconsin.
What is SAADirect?
SAADirect is the SAA’s conduit. A conduit is an organization that receives money from individuals, deposits it in a financial institution, and then transfers contributions to a candidate or campaign committee at the request of the original contributor. Conduits can be thought of as “political savings accounts” held by individuals but administered by the association. SAADirect has the same purpose as that of SAA PAC.
How do conduit and PAC contributions differ?
Conduit contributions differ from political action committee (PAC) contributions in that they are considered by the Elections Board to be individual contributions and reported that way on candidates’ campaign finance reports. Therefore, they are not subject to the same limitations as PAC contributions. However, the check to the candidate or committee is made out in the aggregate and the association gets “credit” along with the individual contributors in the transmittal letter that accompanies the check. A good example would be a $500 check to candidate A from the association’s conduit that is comprised of 10 individual contributions of $50 each. Each contributor would be listed in the transmittal letter and candidates would report them as $50 individual contributions on their finance reports. A key element of the conduit is that each participant retains the absolute right to decide when and where their contributions are distributed. The SAA, the administering body of our conduit, will follow political events and make suggestions as to where contributions would be most beneficial, but the ultimate decision rests solely with each conduit participant.
Why does the SAA need a PAC and a conduit?
Conduits are such an important complement to PACs because many of the candidates that we wish to support for reelection reach their PAC limit very early in an election cycle. Therefore, the only way that we can hope to strengthen our relationship with these “PAC’d out” candidates is via individual or conduit contributions. Unfortunately, the SAA receives no “credit” for individual contributions sent directly to the candidate.
How are SAA PAC and SAADirect funds distributed?
The SAA Director of Government Relations develops a PAC contribution plan that conforms to the following SAA PAC contribution guidelines. This plan is subject to the approval of the SAA Steering Committee, which serves as the governing body of SAA PAC. It is also reviewed by the SAA Legislative Committee. The SAA will make suggestions (generally conforming to the guidelines listed below) as to where SAADirect contributions would be most beneficial, but the ultimate decision rests solely with each conduit participant. The distribution of SAA PAC campaign contributions is limited to:
- Each of the four legislative campaign committees controlled by leadership (i.e., Committee to Elect a Republican Senate) in equal amounts.
- Incumbent legislators.
- Legislators with a proven record of support for public education and SAA positions on issues.
- Key legislators in positions of power.
- Members of the Joint Committee on Finance.
- Selected members of the Senate and Assembly education committees.
Should I participate in SAA PAC or SAADirect?
PACs and conduits each have their distinct advantages, so you should participate in both programs if possible. Many restrictions that apply to PACs do not apply to conduits. The SAA intends to use both programs to maximize SAA political influence. If you wish to “direct” where your contribution goes, and you don’t mind being listed as a contributor on that candidate’s campaign finance report, you may wish to support SAADirect. If you wish to remain more anonymous in your support of the candidates the SAA chooses to support, you may prefer SAA PAC.
Are political contributions tax deductible?
No. (Sorry, but it’s the law.)
How do I contribute?
To open an SAADirect account, or to support the SAA PAC, please fill out the contribution form and return it, along with your check(s), to SAADirect and/or SAA PAC, 4797 Hayes Road, Madison, WI 53704. Call the SAA at 608-242-1370 if you have any questions.
Note: Contributions to both SAADirect and SAA PAC must be made with separate checks. Thank you!