AFSA-PAC

 

Created in 2002, AFSA's Political Action Committee (PAC) is envisioned as a tool that allows AFSA to keep raising its profile on Capitol Hill. It is one of the legislative tools used to advance AFSA's agenda, helping to solve the overseas comparability pay issue and to secure important funding for our foreign affairs budgets. AFSA-PAC ensures that we have a seat at the table and allows us to draw greater attention to our issues.

All PAC funds are solicited from AFSA members. No other outside donations are accepted, as the PAC advocates for Foreign Service employees and retirees only. Therefore, we rely greatly on our members to support the PAC with their generous donations.

During 2012, AFSA-PAC contributed $26,000 to our Congressional supporters' re-election efforts. Our focus continues to remain on the appropriating and authorizing committees with jurisdiction over Foreign Service management issues, Foreign Service staffing, and general foreign affairs matters. We enjoy our good relations with key decision-makers at the highest levels in both parties and we also look to expand our cultivation effort to include new faces.

As is stipulated in the PAC's bylaws (which you can access via a link to the right), our donations are strictly bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans each receive 50% of AFSA-PAC's support. We concentrate mainly on members of four committees and subcommittees on both sides of the Hill:

  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee

  • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs

  • House Foreign Affairs Committee

  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Members who do not serve on any of these committees may be recipients of AFSA-PAC funds, but in those cases they will usually have shown a consistent dedication to the support of diplomacy, development, and the Foreign Service workforce.

As AFSA implements its legislative agenda in the coming year, we are confident that AFSA-PAC will continue giving the Foreign Service a greater voice.

The AFSA-PAC Advisory Committee

We thank the following individuals for volunteering to serve on the AFSA-PAC advisory committee.

  • Hon. Thomas D. Boyatt (chairman)
  • Hon. Robert M. Beecroft
  • Barry Friedman
  • Donald Kursch
  • James Meenan
  • Matthew Asada (AFSA Governing Board liaison)
  • Ian Houston (AFSA staff; assistant treasurer)
  • David Murimi (AFSA staff; keeper of records)

AFSA-PAC Annual Report

AFSA-PAC: 2010 ANNUAL REPORT
BY THOMAS D. BOYATT, AFSA-PAC TREASURER

Dear Colleagues:

I am delighted to report to you that 2010 was AFSA-PAC’s best fundraising year since 2005 and the second best ever.  From the perspectives of having the resources to meet our daunting tasks on the “Hill” and sustaining the morale of those of us who spend a lot of time on this effort, it was a very good year indeed. 

In round numbers, 600 donors contributed $40,000, and the average contribution was $65.55 ― almost 10 percent better than last year.  The percentage of active duty donations increased markedly over previous years, as did our support from overseas.  Both developments are indicators of increasing momentum and improving health.  Our PAC has had strong and consistent support from retired members.

Increasing support from our active duty members—particularly those serving overseas ― is the key to our success at a time when the congressional environment has never been more stressful or more threatening to active duty members, particularly those serving at our embassies and consulates.

In 2010, we distributed $23,000 on a bi-partisan basis to the chairs and senior members of the relevant authorizing and appropriating committees and subcommittees in both the House and Senate ― $12,000 went to Democrats and $11,000 to Republicans.  The small imbalance will be corrected this year.  In addition, we supported friends of the Foreign Service regardless of committee assignment, e.g., Chris Van Hollen Jr.

None of us should be in any doubt that the debt crisis is real.   Major structural reforms, I believe, are inevitable.  State and even Defense face significant budget reductions.  We have a strategy to deal with these challenges.  Our priority is people over programs. 

Recently, the 150 Account (international) budget has been around $55 billion.  Of that, $14 billion is the “people” budget and the rest is programs.   Our goal is to protect and even enhance the “people” budget.  Programs can be reduced without eliminating them and increased later without too much damage.  Any segment of our trained work force that is eliminated (for example, an Arabist) takes at least a decade to replace.

Because the impact of AFSA-PAC, like similar organizations, is cumulative, we are fortunate that we are in our 11th year of activity.  We will need every asset we can acquire in the struggles we now face and will face for the next several years.  Your continuing support is absolutely critical to the outcome.

Respectfully submitted,

Thomas D. Boyatt 
Treasurer

[This article appears in the September 2011 edition of AFSA News in the Foreign Service Journal.]

AFSA-PAC Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a PAC?

A: A Political Action Committee is a committee chartered to raise, administer, disburse, and disclose funds that individuals voluntarily contribute for political purposes. There are nearly 4,000 professional, corporate, union, and other PACs in the U.S. today.

Q: What is the purpose of AFSA-PAC?

A: AFSA-PAC works to make the U.S. Foreign Service a more effective agent of United States international leadership by helping to elect Senators and Representatives who support a strong, effective Foreign Service.

Q: How does AFSA-PAC increase AFSA's effectiveness on Capitol Hill?

A: AFSA has traditionally enjoyed good access to congressional staffers who appreciate hearing our views as the "Voice of the Foreign Service." However, we have found it difficult to get the opportunity to make our case directly to the busy Senators and Representatives who ultimately decide legislation. Because one of the things that Senators and Representatives are busy with is raising the resources they need to communicate with their constituents, AFSA-PAC is able to host and participate in events attended by lawmakers at which we can make our case on key professional and "bread and butter" issues.

Q: How do AFSA-PAC's activities relate to AFSA's ongoing lobbying efforts?

A: AFSA's traditional lobbying efforts will continue in full force -- supported by AFSA member dues and individual contributions to AFSA's Legislative Action Fund. AFSA's Director of Legislative Affairs and AFSA Governing Board officers will continue to make frequent trips to Capitol Hill to brief the influential congressional staffers who typically decide 90 percent of the text of any given piece of legislation. AFSA-PAC supplements these efforts by helping to get Foreign Service issues on the radar screens of the key lawmakers who ultimately decide legislation.

Q: Where does AFSA-PAC get its funds?

A: Voluntary donations by individuals are the source of 100 percent of AFSA-PAC's resources. In accordance with federal law, no AFSA member dues may be transferred to AFSA-PAC and donations to AFSA-PAC may not be commingled with other AFSA funds.

Q: To whom does AFSA-PAC contribute?

AFSA-PAC focuses exclusively on key lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. AFSA-PAC contributes directly to those lawmakers' campaign committees, not to national or local party committees. AFSA-PAC does not participate in other elections (e.g., presidential, state, county, local) or referenda on issues.

AFSA-PAC contributes to candidates who either a) have key roles on congressional committees responsible for funding or oversight of the foreign affairs agencies or b) have elsewhere demonstrated concern for the Foreign Service.

To maintain a strictly bi-partisan stance, contributions by AFSA-PAC are divided evenly between the two major political parties (i.e., half of the dollars go to candidates of one party; half to candidates of the other party). This balance is confirmed semiannually, with additional contributions made if needed to maintain balance.

Q: Does AFSA-PAC affect AFSA's non-partisan nature?

A: Neither AFSA nor AFSA-PAC ever support or oppose domestic or foreign policy issues -- only "bread and butter" and funding issues impacting on the career Foreign Service. The strictly bi-partisan split in contributions by AFSA-PAC (confirmable in filings posted on the Federal Election Commission's website) guarantee against any perception of a partisan tilt.

Q: Who decides which candidates receive AFSA-PAC contributions?

A: A committee appointed by the AFSA Governing Board administers AFSA-PAC. Committee members will identify the Senators and Representatives who are most important to achieving the legislative objectives established by the AFSA Governing Board.

Q: Are the operations of AFSA-PAC open to public scrutiny?

A: Yes. As a PAC registered with the Federal Election Commission, all of AFSA-PAC's filings are posted on the Internet at www.fec.gov. Those filings include reports detailing a) the name of each individual who donates more that $200 and b) each and every contribution to a candidate. In election years, AFSA-PAC files such reports monthly. Under federal law, the AFSA-PAC treasurer is responsible compliance with all reporting and other requirements.

Q: Are there any restrictions on donations AFSA-PAC?

A: Yes. Foreign nationals may not donate. Americans may donate no more than $5,000 per year. The donor's name and address must accompany donations exceeding $50. Individuals donating more than $200 in one year must also specify their occupation and name of employer (if employed). Donations to AFSA-PAC are not tax-deductible.

Q: How can I get more information about AFSA PAC?

A: If you would like more information or if you have any questions about AFSA-PAC, please contact Patrick Bradley at 202-944-5506 or send an e-mail to afsapac@afsa.org

AFSA-PAC Bylaws

American Foreign Service Association 
Political Action Committee (AFSA-PAC) 
Bylaws

Amended April 9, 2003

ARTICLE I
Purposes and Objectives

The AFSA-PAC was created by the Governing Board of the American Foreign Service Association to further AFSA's goal of making the U.S. Foreign Service a more effective agent of United States international leadership. AFSA-PAC does this by helping to reelect Senators and Representatives who support a strong, effective Foreign Service.

The primary objectives of AFSA-PAC are as follows:

1. To further the legislative interests of active-duty and retired Foreign Service personnel by supporting Senators and Representatives who:

a. favor legislation providing adequate resources for diplomatic readiness and/or strengthening the Foreign Service as an institution, and/or

b. have expressed concern for the careers and the quality of life of active-duty and retired Foreign Service personnel and their families;

2. To accept and receive monetary contributions voluntarily donated by any person or persons, group or groups, except those prohibited by law from making such contributions;

3. To disburse monetary contributions to the campaign committees of those incumbent Senators and Representatives seeking reelection, who have expressed support for the Foreign Service and for Foreign Service personnel;

4. To carry on such other activities as may be deemed practicable relating to legislation and candidates for reelection to the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives in order to further serve the interests of the U.S. Foreign Service and its active-duty and retired personnel.

ARTICLE II
Governing Body

Section 1. Officers:

The PAC shall have three officers: the Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, and Keeper of Records. The AFSA Governing Board shall elect all three officers by majority vote for a term of two years. These appointments shall occur one year after each new AFSA Governing Board takes office. The AFSA Governing Board is empowered to fill any vacancies in the officer positions occurring during the two year term. The AFSA Governing Board may replace these officers as it sees fit at any time. All three PAC officers must be registered with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).

The PAC Treasurer must be a retiree AFSA member in good standing. The Assistant Treasurer may be any retiree AFSA member in good standing or an employee of AFSA. The Keeper of Records shall be an employee of AFSA.

The Treasurer (or registered assistant treasurer) is responsible for:

1. Ensuring compliance with all FEC regulations regarding solicitations, and receipt and disbursement of funds;

2. Filing the required reports and documentation with the FEC in a timely manner;

3. Signing and approving all official PAC communications with the FEC, IRS, contributors and candidates;

4. Signing and approving all checks or other disbursements of PAC funds.

In the absence of the Treasurer, the Assistant Treasurer of the PAC may perform the duties assigned to the Treasurer. 

Section 2. Committee:

The PAC shall be governed by a Committee consisting of six (6) retiree or associate (not more than 2) AFSA members in good standing and the PAC Treasurer. The AFSA Governing Board will elect committee members by majority vote for a term of two years. The appointment of Committee members shall occur one year after each new AFSA Governing Board takes office. The AFSA Governing Board is empowered to fill any vacancies in the Committee occurring during the two year term. The Committee will elect its own chair.

The Committee is empowered to take actions necessary to pursue the objectives of the PAC. The Committee will work in consultation with the AFSA Governing Board. The responsibilities of the Committee include:

1. Adopting rules and policies for the conduct of PAC business (subject to overall guidance established by these Bylaws);

2. Reviewing the legislative records of incumbent Senators and Representatives as it relates to the Foreign Service in order to determine to whom the PAC should make contributions;

3. Using PAC contributions to reflect and advance AFSA's objectives and legislative priorities as established by the AFSA Governing Board;

4. Determining the amount of money the PAC contributes to each incumbent, while maintaining the bipartisan nature of the PAC by equally dividing contributions between the two major political parties;

5. Reviewing and approving all communication to AFSA members regarding the business of the PAC;

6. Making regular reports on PAC activities to the AFSA Governing Board.

The AFSA Governing Board may, by majority vote, overrule any action taken by the PAC Committee.

ARTICLE III
Solicitations

The PAC has the right to solicit contributions from AFSA members at any time. The PAC will not knowingly solicit contributions from an active duty AFSA member at his or her government office.

The PAC shall not solicit non-members or use any method of solicitation prohibited by federal election laws.

ARTICLE IV
Contributions

100 percent of the funds disbursed by the PAC shall come from voluntary contributions made to the PAC. The PAC may not access or disburse money generated by membership dues paid to AFSA, or any other general treasury funds of the Association.

Section 1. Contributions Received:

All contributions must be accompanied by the date of receipt as well as the donor's name and address. Contributions aggregating over two hundred dollars ($200.00) from a single donor in one calendar year must also include the donor's occupation and employer. The Keeper of Records and the Treasurer are responsible for obtaining this information when it is not readily provided by the donor.

The PAC may not knowingly accept contributions from foreign nationals, or other contributions prohibited by law. The PAC may not knowingly accept contributions in excess of the limits established by federal election laws.

Section 2. Contributions Made:

The PAC shall not make contributions or disbursements related to candidates in state, county, or municipal/local elections. The PAC shall not make contributions or disbursements related to presidential elections. The PAC shall not make contributions or disbursements related to referenda on issues. The PAC shall not make any contributions or disbursements to a political party's national, state, or district committees.

The PAC shall only contribute to the campaign committees of incumbent Senators and Representatives running for reelection to the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives.

Contributions made by the PAC shall be divided equally between candidates of the two major political parties during each calendar year. This balance will be confirmed on a semi-annual basis, with additional contributions made if needed to maintain balance. This equal division of funds shall be verifiable in public records of PAC transactions released by the FEC. The maintenance of equality is measured in dollars, not in the number of candidates receiving money from the PAC.

If the PAC decides to make contributions to candidates of a third party, or candidates running independent of party affiliation, these contributions shall not affect the equal division of funds between the two major political parties.

The PAC will not make disbursements to candidates that exceed the limits established by federal election laws. 

ARTICLE V
Other Expenditures

The direct and administrative costs of PAC activities may be paid for either from AFSA treasury funds as budgeted or from money received in contributions to the PAC.

ARTICLE VI
Amendments

These PAC bylaws may be amended by majority vote of the AFSA Governing Board.

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AFSA-PAC Contacts

  • Hon. Thomas Boyatt, Treasurer
  • Ian M. Houston, Assistant Treasurer
  • David Murimi, Keeper of Records
  • AFSA-PAC, PO Box 97312, Washington, DC 20077-7027