Ballots are due today and in light of that, we wanted to draw your attention to some efforts that should be of particular interest to the local filmmaking community.

During our July Town Hall events in Seattle and Spokane, representatives from WA FilmPAC spoke to those in attendance about the re-emergence of this Political Action Committee (PAC). We anticipate you’ll be hearing quite a bit about WA FilmPAC’s ongoing activities so we thought it would be useful to do a quick “Film PAC 101” to cover the basics of how and why these efforts can impact your career.

WA FilmPAC is Washington State’s Political Action Committee promoting and backing candidates that support the Washington State film workers and community. Generally speaking, PACs are political committees that are registered with the Federal Election Commission and that work to fundraise and otherwise gain support for industries or causes on a governmental level. They may help support specific candidates’ campaigns, they may work to increase the level of attention their cause receives from legislators, or they may do any combination in between. We asked Washington Filmworks’ Board Member Becky Bogard, a government relations specialist, to shed some light on the topic for us.

What role does a PAC play in advocating for an industry and/or a legislative campaign?
Creation and funding of a PAC demonstrate that an industry recognizes it has a relationship with government. Contributions from a PAC help industry supporters get elected. To the extent that a candidate has demonstrated support for the industry by voting on favorable proposals, it helps such supporters get re-elected. For first-time candidates, a PAC is a tool to talk with candidates about industry issues. 

What other efforts can a PAC put forth to support a cause?
Members of the PAC can engage in “grassroots” activities. These include organizing a doorbelling effort for a candidate, phone banking to get out the vote and organizing fundraisers. It may even include sign waving!

How can people participate? Involving donations and other means?
Volunteering for some of the activities listed above is one way to participate in PAC activities. Certainly giving money to the PAC is important and soliciting funds for the PAC from members of the industry is also important. 

What time of year are PACs most active? Or, what timeframe are we likely looking at for community participation in upcoming efforts?
PACs should be most active now, during the election season. The primary election is August 5 and the general election is November 4. While there will be a lull after the primary until Labor Day, this does not mean PAC members should relax. It is a time to raise funds for the PAC and meet with candidates that have survived the primary. Once established, a PAC should be active year-round in raising funds for its activities with candidates. 

What resources should we direct people to so they can get reliable and valuable information on these topics?
For specific technical information about PACs, you can go to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s website. It will provide limits of contributions to both PACs and candidates as well as all the reporting requirements. Another way to get information about PACs is to talk with political consultants and fundraisers as well as people in industries that have PACs. 

Becky Bogard owns a government relations consulting business that specializes in state and local issues. Her clients include tourism and health care interests, broadcasters, and high-tech companies. Before starting her business, she worked for Governor Booth Gardner. She graduated from Duke University and American University School of Law. 

History & Mission Statement of WA FilmPAC:
For updates, visit the WA FilmPAC Facebook Page

Film PAC was first created in 2010 under Ron Leamon, the then Chair of the PAC. It’s now re-emerging under a new name (WA FilmPAC) and with a modified approach. WA FilmPAC operates under the leadership of Ron Leamon, Lacey Leavitt, JoAnne Ort and Krk Nordenstrom. The mission is as follows:
To engage filmmakers, film crew, talent and others associated with filmmaking in Washington State to become active and effective participants in government affairs. To promote a favorable environment for the artistic and economic development of the film community in Washington State through political action. To raise funds and direct funds to legislators and candidates who support the legislative agenda, incentive programs and city film programs inclusive of the Washington FilmPAC.