Formed in 1976, LandPAC is the California Landscape Contractors Association’s political action committee (PAC). Its purpose is to raise funds from the landscape industry and use that money to support qualified candidates for political office.
LandPAC is an important adjunct to CLCA’s governmental affairs program, a program that also includes professional lobbying, grass roots action, and communications with members and other groups. LandPAC complements and enhances these other program elements.
Campaign Contributions and the Democratic Process
Campaign contributions are an integral part of our political system. Election campaigns are expensive, and candidates must raise tremendous amounts of money to fuel them. Contributions are a way of helping good candidates get elected or stay in office.
PACs play an important role in this process. They amalgamate many contributors into an organized effort, thereby permitting a unified voice on diverse issues. PACs speak for their members and express their opinions in political campaigns–a constitutionally protected form of participation in the democratic process.
Supporting Candidates, Not “Buying Votes”
There’s an important difference between supporting candidates and buying votes. Campaign contributions are a way of demonstrating tangible support for a candidate’s philosophy. PACs take this one step further by allowing groups to express support.
PACs do not buy votes. In fact, it’s illegal to exchange financial contributions for votes, and contributors as well as candidates must avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Very strict laws govern PAC operations.
LandPAC Makes Our Industry a Player
Although small in comparison with the political action committees of many other organizations, LandPAC has increased the landscape industry’s visibility and put us on the political map. This has been accomplished not only by LandPAC’s contributions, which obviously attract notice from potential recipients, but also by the other activities associated with operating a PAC: getting on candidate mailing lists, attending fundraising events, and meeting with candidates or their staff.
Through LandPAC, CLCA educates our elected representatives about the landscape industry. For example, the unlicensed operator problem–let’s face it–does not move the masses as an issue. But it’s a burning issue among landscape contractors. And that makes it a major LandPAC issue. When LandPAC contributes to a candidate, you can be sure the candidate has been educated about this problem and the myriad of other issues that affect the survival of landscape contractors.
LandPAC also helps level the playing field for the landscape industry’s political battles against better-financed opposition groups. LandPAC doesn’t guarantee us victories, but it makes us a player in Sacramento. And make no mistake, in the political arena there are no disinterested spectators–only players and victims.
LandPAC Gives You Statewide Clout
LandPAC gives its contributors a statewide impact in choosing those who make California’s laws. There are 120 state legislators, but you can only vote for one Senator and one Assembly Member. Through LandPAC you expand your influence to the entire Legislature.
Who Can Contribute?
Anyone can contribute to LandPAC–CLCA members and nonmembers alike. All it takes is your interest in the future of the landscape industry.
Who Runs LandPAC?
CLCA runs LandPAC. We have our LandPAC committee, which determines all contribution amounts as well as their recipients. All LandPAC actions are reviewed by CLCA’s Board of Directors twice a year.
How Are Contributions Made?
Contributions are made only to incumbents or candidates for statewide or California legislative office, not to those for local or federal office.
At the beginning of every year, the Contribution Subcommittee puts together a list of key legislators and other candidates who demonstrate a willingness to listen and respond to the needs of small business and, particularly, the landscape industry. Then, during the course of the year LandPAC gives money to these qualified candidates. Normally, the contributions are made in conjunction with fund-raisers attended by a CLCA representative.
When LandPAC members recommend contributions to candidates who are not on the list, the committee evaluates the request and makes a speedy decision.
Recommendations should be made in writing, and they should include information on why the candidate is worthy of support. Your letter also should indicate if you’ve made personal contact with the candidate and if you will represent LandPAC at the candidate’s upcoming fund-raiser. (It’s normally required that you answer both questions in the affirmative.)
All LandPAC contributors receive a letter of thanks and recognition at CLCA meetings. Those who give $100 or more in any one year receive special mention in the CLCA newsletter.
In addition to the extra political clout and recognition you get as a LandPAC contributor, you should know that LandPAC membership labels you a player in the political process. Studies show that people who contribute to their PAC are more likely to vote (and vote intelligently), and are more likely to write their elected officials and express an opinion on an issue.