Business Industry Political Action Committee
Learn more about Pete Peterson-funded astroturf projects at the Fix the Debt Portal.
The Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) is a political action committee (PAC) that aims to help companies influence their employees' votes. BIPAC's website describes the organization's goal as "to improve the political climate in America for the business community and help job providers play a more active role in the public policy and political process." BIPAC's slogan is "When Business Votes, Business Wins."
According to a 2014 report by Slate, BIPAC does engage in the traditional activities of a PAC by donating directly to political campaigns, but its main aim "is to turn as many private employers as possible into “employee political education” machines for business interests." BIPAC claims that in the 2014 election cycle, affiliated corporate PACs using BIPAC's services contributed $80 million to political candidates, and that BIPAC sent 3.7 million messages from affiliates' employees to legislators. Corporations affiliated with BIPAC include ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, BP, Campbell Soup, eBay, Nationwide Insurance, and Walmart.
- 1 Structure
- 2 Activities and Positions
- 3 History
- 4 PAC Activities
- 5 Ties to Fix The Debt
- 6 Personnel
- 7 Contact Information
- 8 SourceWatch Resources
- 9 External links
- 10 References
BIPAC has two main components, according to its website:
- "The BIPAC corporation, referred to as the Business Institute for Political Analysis or Institute is the primary core of BIPAC operations and is totally supported by corporate donations of its business and association members. The Institute provides business with political research and analysis through publications, conferences and consulting. Contributions to the Institute are not tax deductible as charitable contributions but may be deductible as an ordinary business expense to the extent the law allows... BIPAC’s Institute does not have an IRS tax exemption status and, as a result, is not required to divulge the list of its members to any government entity… Our Prosperity Project operates as part of the Institute.
- "BIPAC also maintains a separate federal political action committee referred to as the Action Fund. Action Fund revenues are derived solely from the voluntary contributions of individuals and other corporate and association political action committees from around the country."
As of 2015, BIPAC is comprised of several legal entities:
- Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), a registered federal political action committee
- Business Institute for Political Analysis (formerly Political Education Council), which is the "primary core of BIPAC operations," and which is not a tax-exempt organization according to BIPAC's website in 2007. However, BIPAC also appears to have a non-profit arm operating under the same EIN (13-1985476), which is listed on other organizations' tax filings as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
- BIPAC Action Fund, "the non-connected political action committee (PAC) for BIPAC," which endorses and contributes to political candidates. It does not take corporate contributions.
- The Prosperity Project (P2), BIPAC's "employee political education" project. BIPAC describes P2 as "a joint venture among employers, state organizations, business groups, and [BIPAC] to encourage greater business and employee participation in the political and public policy process… Employees receive customized information about the policies and people that impact their jobs and industry." P2 is located structurally within the Business Insitute for Political Analysis.
- Friends of Adam Smith, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit (EIN: 52-2321987).
Activities and Positions
BIPAC builds and hosts websites for corporations that link employees to BIPAC's ratings of politicians and candidates for office and encourage them to send pre-drafted messages to their legislators. Some of these efforts have been described by In These Times:
- On a BIPAC-hosted site, the fast-food giant Wendy’s asks visitors to write letters to their legislators about the “misguided” current proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
- A National Restaurant Association “Action Alert Sample” also found on BIPAC’s server, apparently aimed at the Senate’s 2010 crafting of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), urges people to write their senators to argue for small businesses and part-time workers to be exempted from the ACA. Both of these policy preferences were ultimately adopted in the final version of the healthcare reform law.
From 2000-2014, BIPAC claimed the following results:
- Sent 883 million messages to employee voters
- 31% of voters heard from their employer about policies and politics effecting [sic] their workplace, the highest ever, and a vast improvement over the roughly 5% when we started.
- Delivered just short of 10 million employee messages to policy makers since we began using P2 for such communication in 2003, 3.7 million of which occurred this election cycle  alone
- Business political action committees using BIPAC services made approximately $80 million in candidate contributions this cycle 
- 80+ % of BIPAC Action Fund endorsed candidates won their elections
- BIPAC membership revenues almost doubled from 2000 to 2006 and then doubled again from 2006 to 2013
According to BIPAC, more than 80 percent of the candidates BIPAC Action Fund endorsed in 2014 won their races.
BIPAC's Claim to Be Nonpartisan
BIPAC states that it is a non-partisan organization, but "shows a strong preference for Republican candidates," according to In These Times, and has tended to highlight right-wing policies such as voter ID bills and opposing minimum wage increases, according to The Washington Post. Around 89 percent of candidates supported by BIPAC have been Republicans, Reuters estimates. See also PAC Activities below.
In 2004 then-BIPAC president Greg Casey said that BIPAC only tells business employees "how the issues impact them," and not who to vote for, but he was also quoted as saying that 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's choice of John Edwards as his running mate "is a statement to the business community that 'you don't count'," and calling Kerry "not a business candidate. He hasn't even pretend (sic) to be."
BIPAC Efforts Raise Concerns about Employee Coercion
BIPAC claims that many employees want their employers to share information about politics, and company representatives have told reporters that employee participation in political contributions and activities is voluntary. But the nature of the workplace and incentives given by companies have have raised concerns among some FEC officials about just how voluntary participation is at many workplaces, as Reuters reports:
- "What I worry about is the inherently coercive nature of these workplace situations," Democratic FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said.
- "Let’s say an employer decides to throw corporate resources behind a candidate and sets up a phone bank, asking employees to get on the phone to get people to support candidate Jones. It’s very hard to say no to your employer. It puts the employee, especially the low-level employee, in a very difficult position."
Some employers offer perks to employees who make contributions to corporate PACs.
- BP, for example, says employees who donate at least 2.5 percent of their salary to the company PAC get choice parking spots in the company lot. At Wal-Mart, the company gives employees who donate to the company PAC a two-for-one match to Wal-Mart’s in-house charity for associates in need.
Pfizer emails employees to encourage them to contact politicians on legislation of interest to the company, such as patent legislation, and Koch Industries "sent its employees a voter packet informing them which candidates, including Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the company supported, as well as an editorial knocking President Barack Obama."
Some employees have reported feeling pressured to participate or to have experienced retribution for not participating in their company's political activities. Workers in the Alaskan oil industry told Slate that they "feared being blacklisted" for talking about BIPAC and political messaging in their companies related a ballot measure that would have repealed an industry tax cut.
- "They let it be known that if SB 21 was repealed that there would be layoffs," said one BP employee, referring to Alaska’s Ballot Measure 1. "It was clear how they wanted us to vote."
- He said it was "absolutely not" an environment in which it was acceptable to express any dissent over management’s political positions. An email sent to every BP employee in Alaska, and obtained by the Investigative Fund, encouraged employees to wave signs rejecting repeal along some of Anchorage’s busiest thoroughfares.
Concentration in Financial and Insurance Industries
A confidential BIPAC slideshow obtained by In These Times in 2014 reported internal data the BIPAC's networks covered some 25 million employees, 19.7 million of whom worked in the financial and insurance sectors.
Friends of Adam Smith Foundation
BIPAC established the Friends of Adam Smith Foundation in 2000 in order to "to research and promote the historical and relevant link between politics, public policy and economic freedom." The foundation hosts an annual Adam Smith Dinner at which its Adam Smith Award is given to public officials and "business citizens." 2014 Adam Smith awards were given to Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jay Timmons, President and Chief Executive of the National Association of Manufacturers. Previous honorees include J. Larry Nichols, chair and CEO of Devon Energy, Lee Raymond, chair and CEO of Exxon Mobil, and Dick Cheney, chair and CEO of Halliburton. Additional awardees are listed on the Friends of Adam Smith Foundation website.
BIPAC was formed in August 1963 as "the first business PAC." Its initial funding and staff came from the National Association of Manufacturers. In the 1980s, BIPAC began producing "a monthly report on politics and political races, known today as Elections Insight, and a now-popular series of Washington Briefings" in addition to holding "formal briefings across the country." In the 1990s, BIPAC created the "PAC Council - providing companies with a rich set of resources with which to invigorate corporate PACs and integrate them more firmly at all levels of political decision-making" and started awarding Adam Smith Awards, to recognize "individuals in business and politics whose actions exemplify Adam Smith's concept of the link between free enterprise and a democratic society." BIPAC formed Project 2000 (now known as the Prosperity Project) "to lead the business community out of the era of huge 'soft money' donations and into a new way of doing political business - working at the grass roots to marshal the vast army of American workers in support of the people and policies that advance their jobs, their investments, and their industries."
In July 2004, Advertising Age reported:
- "Exxon Mobil, PPG Industries, Caterpillar, Household International and half the Fortune 100 corporations have signed on with a program that pushes their companies' views of political candidates to employees via Web sites and interoffice e-mails.
- "The Business Industry Political Action Committee's "Prosperity Project" program targets 20 million employees in battleground states. The committee is especially concerned about confirmation of pro-business judges and has focused most of its attention on congressional races."
Ties to the Tobacco Industry
According to documents archived in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, at least up to 1998 BIPAC representatives worked with tobacco industry groups and sought and received funding from the tobacco industry, including companies like RJ Reynolds and the trade group the Tobacco Institute.
BIPAC's ties to the tobacco industry appear date back close to its founding. Minutes from a 1964 Tobacco Institute meeting report that board members heard a presentation about BIPAC, and BIPAC's first national advisory board included the president of Bloch Brothers Tobacco Company. A 1966 memo from Tobacco Institute's Edward Ragland to Senator Earle Clements listed BIPAC (then operated by the National Association of Manufacturers) among organizations that were "sympathetic to our problems and willing to lend their support to us where the problem of further govermental controls over industry exists."
See the TobaccoWiki for more information on the tobacco industry.
While BIPAC is primarily focused on helping companies influence their employees' voting and political activities, it does also engage in activities traditionally associated with political action committees such as raising money to contribute to political candidates and party committees. BIPAC reported $1,671,049 in contributions between 1990 and 2014, with the majority going to Republicans.
Top recipients in previous election cycles have included:
2014: Total contributions of $70,995.
- Cory Gardner: $3,000
- Terri Lynn Land: $2,500
2012: Total contributions of $148,500.
- Arizonans for Jobs: $40,000
- Mitt Romney: $5,000
- George Allen: $4,500
- Scott Brown: $3,500
- Jeff Flake: $3,500
- Linda Lingle: $3,500
- Tom Smith: $3,500
- Tommy G. Thompson: $3,500
Ties to Fix The Debt
BIPAC is a partner of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, an effort by former Nixon man-turned-Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to cut earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." For example, BIPAC worked with Fix the Debt in Pennsylvania. See the Fix the Debt Portal for more information.
As of May 2015:
- Jim Gerlach, President and CEO as of June 2015. Gerlach served as a U.S. House Representative (R-Pennsylvania) for 12 years and worked at Venable LLP prior to joining BIPAC.
- Gregory Casey, President and CEO until June 2015. Casey was formerly a U.S. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and served as chief of staff to former Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID). Casey announced in December 2014 that he would step down as President as of June 30, 2015.
- Mark D. Archuleta, CFO
- Terri Bogert, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board
- Melissa Craig, Vice President, Member Relations
- Kelsey Moncrief, Director, PAC Relations
- Jonathan Collum, Manager, Member Relations
- Kim Podolsky, Coordinator, Member Relations
- Joseph Minardi, Coordinator, Member Relations
- Bridget McGinley, Coordinator, Member Relations
- Bo Harmon, Senior Vice President, Political Affairs
- Cathy Mesch, Regional Vice President
- Mary Beth Hart, Midwest Regional Director, Field Operations
- Colleen Bowman, Manager, Field Operations
- Mike Mullen, Manager, Field Operations
- Jason Langsner, Vice President, Enterprise Operations
- Garima Jain, Executive Director, Client Applications, Data and Systems
- Brittanie Goldsmith, Director, Enterprise Operations
- Jeffrey Ackler, Manager, Enterprise Operations
- Meghna Dey, Manager, Database Systems
Board of Directors
As of May 2015:
- John Pallat, Chair. President, Equinox Financial Solutions
- Jan Witold Baran, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP
- Al Bernard, Senior Vice President, Washington Operations, The Manitowoc Company, Inc.
- Linden Blue, Vice Chairman, General Atomics
- Heidi Biggs Brock, President, The Aluminum Association
- Dale E. Brown, President & CEO, Financial Services Institute
- Gregory S. Casey, President & CEO, BIPAC
- Allan D. Cors, McLean, VA
- Ray Dillon, President & CEO, Deltic Timber Corporation
- Lawrence Duncan, III, Vice President Federal & State Government Relations, Lockheed Martin
- Mark A. Dunn, Vice President, J.R. Simplot Company
- Brian Elson, Vice President, Government Relations, Rolls Royce; P2 Steering Committee Co-Chair
- Chris Fetgatter, Senior Director – Government Relations, Occidental Petroleum
- Todd Fleming, Chief Executive Offier, Infrasafe
- Kevin Fromer, Executive Vice President, & Head of Public Policy, HSBC North America
- Walter L. Foxworth, Chairman & CEO, Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber Company
- Russell B. Hagen, Chairman of the Board, Data Recognition Corporation
- Dan Harmon, Executive Vice President/General Counsel, Hoffman Corporation
- Scott Hawkins, President & COO, Co-Founder, Advanced Supply Chain International
- Robert L. Healy, Principal & Senior Director, The Wexler Group
- Micaela A. Isler, Assistant Vice President, State Government Relations, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
- J. Bennett Johnston, Founder, Johnston & Associates
- Kelly Johnston, Vice President, Government Affairs, Campbell Soup Company
- Anne Forristall Luke, Vice President, Political & Public Affairs, Association of Equipment Manufacturers
- Michael Lunceford, Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Mary Kay Corporation
- Robb MacKie, President & CEO, American Bakers Association
- Donald R. Margo II, Chief Executive Officer, Margo Partners Incorporated
- Donald McClellan, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy, Brown-Forman Corporation
- John Noble McConnell, Jr., Chairman, Labconco Corporation
- David Modi, Vice President of Government Affairs, Ingersoll Rand
- Ned Monroe, Senior Vice President, External Relations National Association of Manufacturers
- Robert Moran, Vice President, Government Affairs, Halliburton
- Kraig R. Naasz, President & CEO, American Frozen Food Institute
- J. Larry Nichols, Executive Chairman, Devon Energy Corporation
- Conrad A. Plimpton, Plimpton & Company
- Alan Poff, Director, Government & Community Affairs, The Schwan Food Company
- Leigh Ann Pusey, President & CEO, American Insurance Association
- Marc A. Rodriguez, Boardmember, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Barry Russell, President, Independent Petroleum Association of America
- Juan Pablo Segura, Principal, Gaucho Capital LLC
- Jeff Shoaf, Senior Executive Director, Government Affairs Associated General Contractors of America
- Charles W. Stenholm, Senior Policy Advisor, Olsson, Frank, and Weeda, P.C.
- Thomas J. Tauke, Chairman, Home Technology Systems, Inc., Tauke Ventures, LLC
- Constance E. Tipton, President & CEO, International Dairy Foods Association
- Kyle True, Partner & Manager, Diamond Companies
- Chris Wallace, President & CEO, Greater Irving-Las Colinas Texas Chamber
- H.B. Wehrle, III, Member of the Board, MRC Global
- Jade West, Senior Vice President-Government Relations, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors
- Ron Whitmire, Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, EnerVest, Ltd.
- Earle C. Williams, Director Emeritus, Ex Officio Member of the Board
- Chad Wilson, Director, Public Affairs, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
- George M. Yates, Chairman & CEO, Heyco Energy Group
888 16th Street NW, Suite 305
Washington DC 20006
Email: info AT bipac.org
Websites: http://www.bipac.org, http://www.bipac.net, http://www.friendsofadamsmith.org/, http://www.fightforjobs.org/
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