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ESOP PAC is the fully segregated fund supported by volunteer contributions that donates to members of Congress who have demonstrated, on the public record, support for positive laws for ESOPs.   (Note, under the Federal Election Laws, a PAC affiliated with a 501(c)(6), a trade association, the income from members’ dues, meetings revenue, etc. may pay for the operating expenses of its PAC, but may not be used to support any candidate for elected office.)

Per the decision of the leaders of The ESOP Association when the PAC was established in 1988, priorities for support from the ESOP PAC for a confirmed supporter of positive ESOP law are:
  1. Evidence of support for positive ESOP law is sponsoring a pro-ESOP proposal; speaking on the public record supporting current and/or expanding positive ESOP law; voting and speaking against any negative ESOP proposal in Committee or on the floor of Congress; offering an amendment in Committee or on the floor of Congress a positive ESOP proposal.
  2. A member of the Congressional committees with jurisdiction over the specific laws governing ESOPs—primarily the tax committees of Congress—the House Committee on Ways and Means, and the Senate Committee on Finance; and,
  3. A member of the Congressional committees with jurisdiction over the special laws governing ESOPs that are enforced by the Department of Labor, who has met the criteria set forth below:
  4. A member of Congress not on the Committees mentioned above may be supported if meeting criteria “1” set forth above.
  5. Electability.
Many Americans, influenced by the new media, believe PACs are “dirty” money, trying to “bribe” a member of Congress to be “for” their special interest.

First of all, the concept of legalizing political action committees, or PACs, grew out of election scandals of the 1970s, where unreported, unknown sources of cash in large amounts were being given to candidates for public office, without any significant enforcement that the money was spent only on campaign overhead.

Second, all political campaigns in the U.S. are paid for by private money, under the level of President, which can receive public funds.  Since the mid-1970s the money given to a political campaign for Federal office, such as the Congress, are publicly disclosed.  If the private sector is not supporting a member of Congress, who is an ESOP supporter, then that member of Congress is not, as a rule, likely to be able to reach voters in a manner that is effective in today’s world of TV, headquarters rent, social media, press releases, staff overhead, printing, travel costs, and the list can go on.

Thirdly, there is a great deal of media publicity about tax exempt entities known as 501(c)(5)s that were per an early 21st Supreme Court decision permitted to give unlimited amounts of money to campaigns, and often the money goes to the c.5 from one, or a few very rich people.

On the other hand, ESOP PAC is restricted in very significant ways as to how it can solicit money, and how much it can donate to a campaign—basically $5,000 per election.

In sum, ESOP PAC, like all 501(c)(6) trade association’s PACs, is a way to collect small amounts of money i.e. $5, $10, $25, $100, $250, $500, $1000, up to $5,000 per year.  Those contributions make it possible for those who are anxious to see the public policy goals of the trade association become national policy in Congress, who support their views. 

We in the ESOP world like to say, “ESOP PAC, making something big a little at a time.”

Finally, there are legal restrictions on ESOP PAC asking for donations.  ESOP PAC can solicit executives and shareholders of a corporate member only if given specific authorization to ask for a contribution; and, a corporation can authorize only one PAC to solicit its executives and/or shareholders in a calendar year.

And, while anyone can donate to ESOP PAC, and while anyone who is not affiliated with the ESOP PAC can ask anyone to donate to ESOP PAC, it cannot be done with the knowledge of the staff of The ESOP Association, unless the solicitor is registered with the Federal Election Commission.  (These restrictions were part of a grand compromise back in 1974 between organized labor and business trade associations.)

Information about a PAC under the regulation of the Federal Election Commission, must make public all information regarding who gave to ESOP PAC at an amount greater than $200, and to whom the money was donated, and how much.

Questions? Please contact James Bonham. ESOP PAC Treasurer, at or by phoning (202) 293-2971.