With a new Congress in session and the 2020 elections looming, MMG asked Tom Turmell, the chairman of the Association for Corporate Growth’s PAC Committee, about the PAC’s role in supporting a healthy climate for middle-market businesses and to describe its goals for 2019.
The ACG Political Action Committee was formed three years ago as a policy tool to help advance the interests of the middle market in federal policymaking. The PAC contributed to four candidates in the 2018 midterm elections, and all of those up for re-election won their seats. Turmell, a managing director at TMT Capital Partners and a former member of the ACG board of directors, discussed how the ACG PAC is an important policy tool in Washington, D.C., and he outlined the policy positions it supports.
Q. How does the ACG PAC benefit the middle market, and what type of candidate does it support?
Tom Turmell: The ACG Political Action Committee represents the interests of ACG members in the middle market. Our goal is to educate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about the importance of middle-market companies and private capital, which drive U.S. economic growth and job creation. We need to do what we can to ensure the formation of private capital, and that its investment in small and midsize companies remains fluid.
To that end, the ACG PAC supports candidates from both parties who champion issues that are important to driving middle-market growth, such as modifications to the Dodd-Frank Act. In particular, the ACG PAC helps ensure that federal legislators who support policies that foster middle- market growth—like those that would improve access to capital for small and middle-market companies, and that would relieve unnecessary, burdensome registration requirements for ACG members’ firms—get re-elected. Community banks should be encouraged to make prudent business decisions on how to invest in their communities, and private capital providers should be allowed to focus on their core competencies—supporting companies and management teams with the capital, operational and managerial resources they need to achieve profitable business growth.
The ACG PAC also supports candidates who promote smart tax policies that incentivize investment and business innovation while rewarding investors for their risk. In addition, the ACG PAC creates another pathway for engagement with federal legislators on issues of importance to the middle market. For example, ACG advocates for sensible joint-employer policies that place risk and liability on those who have direct jurisdiction over, and responsibility for, business decisions. Current joint-employer policies simply aren’t logical and seem to have been created to punish arms-length related parties, which does nothing but create risk and deter investment in good companies that need access to capital.
Q. What has the ACG PAC’s activity involved to date?
TT: The ACG PAC is still young, but we’ve begun to engage ACG members in our effort. We received contributions over the past couple of years that enabled us to support four candidates in the 2018 congressional midterm election. To be eligible to contribute, an individual must be an American citizen or green card holder and a paying member of ACG.
Being able to donate to the campaigns of members of Congress who support ACG’s mission provided the opportunity to engage in advocacy efforts in a new and meaningful way, as well as deepen our relationship with several legislators. The importance of relationship-building on Capitol Hill cannot be overstated. In 2017, ACG joined forces with other organizations to educate Congress as it formulated and passed the 2017 tax law, developing relationships with members of Congress and their staff while advocating for pro-growth tax policies. ACG members were on Capitol Hill the day the Republicans published their initial draft of the legislation. Parts of early drafts were very different from what was ultimately passed. It’s a little scary to think what could have passed had ACG not been in a position to have a voice.
The ACG PAC allows ACG to participate in fundraisers and events that provide another avenue for building relationships with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. This enhances ACG’s ability to increase education about private capital and to advocate for positions that are helpful to ACG’s membership.
“We need to do what we can to ensure the formation of private capital, and that its investment in small and midsize companies remains fluid.”
During the 2018 election cycle, the ACG PAC contributed to the campaigns of four incumbent candidates— two Democrats and two Republicans. All four were incumbents with demonstrated track records of supporting policies that were helpful to our members and the interests of the middle market. All recipients who were up for re-election won their races.
The ACG PAC committee is hopeful that through our communication and engagement efforts we will be able to raise significantly more money in the coming year, positioning us to be even more active during 2020.
Q. What are the goals for the ACG PAC in 2019?
TT: Working in conjunction with ACG’s public policy committee, the ACG PAC has three overarching goals this year. The first is to establish an active, supportive committee made up of a diverse cross section of ACG members. The second is to develop and execute a communications program that engages local chapter leadership and informs ACG’s members about our public policy initiatives and the importance of the ACG PAC to our organizational goals. Finally, our third goal is to use our education and engagement efforts to help us build a pool of funds that we can use to support candidates on both sides of the aisle who understand and advocate policies that are beneficial to the growth of the middle market.
Next year is going to be an important election year. Voices are getting louder and support seems to be growing for policies that would intensify regulatory oversight, increase the size of government, elevate economic risk, impede the flow of investment in small and midsize companies, and make business activities more expensive. These types of policies are bad for businesses of all sizes, the U.S. economy and job creation. The middle market needs an advocate in Washington to represent its interests, and ACG is that voice.
This story originally appeared in the May/June print edition of Middle Market Growth magazine. Read the full issue in the archive.
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Tom Turmell is chairman of the ACG PAC Committee.