CompTIA to Launch Political Action CommitteeBy Lawrence Walsh | Posted 2009-07-20 Email Print
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At its annual Breakaway conference next month, CompTIA will announce the formation of the CompTIA PAC, which will support candidates that share and promote the interest of small and midsize solution and service providers.
Federal and state laws, government regulation, and court interpretation of statutes are increasingly having an influence on the way businesses use technology and how solution providers sell and support IT products and services. CompTIA has long maintained a presence on Capitol Hill to influence public policy, but is now getting directly involved in influencing who actually makes it to Washington to create laws.
At its annual Breakaway conference in Las Vegas next month, CompTIA will announce the creation of the CompTIA Political Action Committee (PAC), which will raise money to support political candidates and legislative initiatives that foster the interest of SMB-oriented solution and service providers.
"We really want to help and empower our members," says Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA.
CompTIA is no stranger to politics, at least on the federal level. Part of the organization’s mission from its inception in 1982 is public advocacy. Over the years, CompTIA has placed its executive officers and members before congressional committees to testify on everything from security regulations, privacy controls and online tax implications. Recently, CompTIA arranged a series of meetings between members and their congressional representatives to discuss technology-related regional and national issues.
The political action committee will differ from the public advocacy mission in that it will support candidates—incumbents and newcomers alike—that share the viewpoints and interests of CompTIA members. As a nonprofit organization, CompTIA is barred from giving money to political candidates, but its PAC will operate outside that restriction.
The need for a CompTIA PAC is evident in the continual series of proposed laws and regulations that would adversely impact the businesses of CompTIA members and solution providers in general, Thibodeaux says. In addition to CompTIA, there’s only two other dedicated technology political advocates in Washington—Information Technology Association of America and TechAmerica.
Over the past year, CompTIA has worked with regional political action committees on the state level to repeal or defeat initiatives that would have negatively impacted solution providers. In California, CompTIA worked with a regional PAC and member Alvaka Networks to amend a law that restricted third parties from accessing a private network; that law would have made managed services illegal. In Maryland, CompTIA worked with a local PAC to help defeat a measure that would have taxed managed services.
"A lot of public policy advocacy is trying to protect against the worst-case scenario," Thibodeaux says.
The CompTIA PAC will likely operation on a national level, supporting congressional and presidential candidates. Support for state-level candidates will depend on election and advocacy restrictions and requirements. The PAC will raise money outside the usual CompTIA membership fees. Thibodeaux does not expect the amount raised or donated to be large amount of money to candidates in the first few years; he says PACs do not have to be large to be impactful.
The CompTIA PAC will differ from other similar efforts by directly involving the CompTIA members in policy positioning and candidate support. CompTIA is building a series of communities that will give members direct voice in decision making and the direction of the organization. Thibodeaux says there’s nothing more impactful than a CompTIA member testifying before Congress, which is why the face of the PAC will be CompTIA’s members.
"I want them to walk away thinking that we’re doing all the right things and they will be a part of it," Thibodeaux says.