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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.