NTRA UPDATEWilliam S. Farish, Jr. - Chairman, NTRA PAC Board
POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
D.G. Van Clief Jr.: It's a pleasure to introduce our next speaker, Bill Farish. Bill is not only the chairman of the NTRA Political Action Committee Board but also its leading advocate and fund-raiser.
William S. Farish Jr.: Thanks, D. G., and good morning everyone.
For the past two years I have chaired the NTRA PAC Board. I undertook this assignment with some skepticism. I really wasn't sure if we could make the voice of our industry heard in Washington.
I am here to tell you today that NTRA - your league office - has done an impressive job building an effective legislative program for our industry. Our industry's voice is being heard.
The NTRA PAC was formed in 2002 after new campaign finance laws were passed, prohibiting corporate contributions to federal candidates.
Under the old rules, corporations could make unlimited "soft-money" contributions. That put our industry at a strategic disadvantage against huge corporations that could spend millions of dollars. The new rules work in our favor by allowing us to raise "hard-money" contributions from individuals. We, as an industry, have the resources to deliver.
The change in the laws gave us a fresh opportunity to energize our presence in Washington and put us on the same footing as other major industries at a much smaller cost.
We set a first-year fund-raising goal of $200,000. We raised more than $360,000. With that money, we have already become a factor in Washington.
There are three reasons to give to a PAC:
First, a PAC can give a candidate more than twice the dollars that you as an individual can. That gets us more attention when we go to meet with congressmen and senators.
Second, when you give to a candidate as an individual, it doesn't really convey your goals or concerns for our industry. When you give through a PAC, you give as a horse person expressing your industry's concerns. That is strength in numbers.
The third is strategy. PAC's play a crucial role in getting strategic contributions into the hands of those members of Congress who have the most say over issues that affect our business. We know who those members are by the House and Senate Committees they serve on.
The House and Senate have 36 committees between them, but only a few of them have a hand in legislation that affects our business. Our main focus is on the committees that oversee tax matters, Internet gaming and agriculture.
We identify key members on those committees with the help of the NTRA's lobbying firm, the Alpine Group, which makes recommendations for our PAC fund disbursements.
Lobbying is a major component of the NTRA's legislative program and the PAC can't really do its job unless we have a clearly defined agenda, which D.G. has outlined.
PAC funds can only go to political candidates. Lobbying, on the other hand, is paid for by the NTRA's Legislative Action Campaign, which most of you know as "the quarter percent program." This year, the program will put more than a million dollars toward lobbying on behalf of our industry.
Some of you might be wondering, "What about the American Horse Council?" The answer to that is simple.
The Horse Council represents more than a hundred breeds. Its plate is full with issues that are common to all horses. NTRA and the Horse Council work together on issues that affect all breeds - like equine identification and disease control - but only the NTRA can lobby and raise PAC funds for the sole benefit of the Thoroughbred industry.
What's been so encouraging to me is how well this is working. We've gone from being reactive to being proactive. We've gone from zero to almost $400,000 a year for political contributions. We have a Congressional Horse Caucus that has been formed as a direct result of the NTRA's actions. There are more than 60 members in the Horse Caucus now representing 25 states - and it is growing!
Between the PAC and the Legislative Action Campaign, the NTRA will put more than $1.6 million dollars toward legislative programs to benefit the Thoroughbred industry.
I truly believe that legislation has tremendous potential to transform our industry for the better. I hope you will join me in contributing the maximum amount possible -- $5,000 -- to the NTRA PAC this year. Many of you have already given, but I know that there are many of you who have not yet been contacted.
There's a pledge form inside your NTRA folder that's in front of you. Please take a minute to fill it out during the break and hand it to Peggy Hendershot from the NTRA, who is standing right there and she'll be happy to take your pledge.