By Peter N. Calcara, PICPA Vice President – Government Relations
The PICPA has a political action committee. That might come as a surprise to many of PICPA’s 20,000 members. But it’s true, and it was founded to serve the unique interests of CPAs in Pennsylvania’s political process. It seems, though, that CPAs don’t know about this – which I suggest in the opening – or don’t care, which I truly hope is not the case.
Let’s look at the numbers. For the 2022 fundraising year, 582 individual members contributed to CPA-PAC (down from 715 in 2021) – that only translates to a 3% level of member participation.
Lack of political participation is a problem for many organizations like the PICPA. In fact, only a handful of groups can raise funds for political purposes with seeming ease – organized labor and the trial bar. For virtually all other groups, it’s a challenge for any number of reasons.
The one I have routinely heard during my tenure with the PICPA is that some members feel that their organization should not engage in the game of politics. That, unfortunately, is not practical for one basic reason: decisions made by the General Assembly have a direct impact on the CPA profession and its clients. The CPA license is state-based and governed by the CPA Law, an act of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Tax legislation that impacts every individual and business in the commonwealth is considered by the state legislature virtually every year in conjunction with the passage of a state budget. How is it conceivable that the PICPA and its members should ignore the political arena?
When much of what CPAs do is controlled, altered, or reviewed by political entities, not engaging in the political process is like only playing defense and leaving the field when it’s your turn on offense. It just doesn’t result in good public policy in the long run. Helping to get individuals elected to the state House and Senate that are open-minded and attune to which issues are important and how they should be addressed is not a bad thing. I assure you, groups and organizations that do not share a similar vision with CPAs are not shy about getting their champions elected.
The CPA-PAC Board of Trustees, which currently consists of 20 members from a cross-section of the PICPA’s membership, is a bipartisan, member-managed organization representing CPAs in public practice, industry, and government. The CPA-PAC is the only PAC to specifically represent the interests of Pennsylvania CPAs in the political arena. Contribution requests from candidates are considered on a case-by-case basis and addressed in a bipartisan manner.
CPA-PAC plays a critical role by serving as the voice of the profession. The PAC’s top priority is to always support CPA candidates for the General Assembly and support them while in office. We are fortunate to currently have four members in the state House—Rep. George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland), Rep. Keith Greiner (R-Lancaster), Rep. Ben Sanchez (D-Montgomery), and Rep. Nick Pisciottano (D-Allegheny). These four form the small but influential “CPA Caucus.”
In 2022, $183,800 was disbursed to support the campaigns of candidates who endorsed positions favorable to PICPA members. That’s impressive considering less than 5% of PICPA members contribute to CPA-PAC.
Remember the CPA-PAC Board as you renew your PICPA membership this year, and understand that the CPA-PAC is a valuable and much-needed tool in PICPA’s overall advocacy efforts in Harrisburg. An investment in any amount is greatly appreciated and will help you drive the CPA profession to where you think it needs to be.
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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the PICPA's officers or members. The information contained herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For actionable advice, you must engage or consult with a qualified professional.