The Academy’s Political Action Committee (PAC) plays a key role in supporting federal advocacy initiatives. 

In 2017, the Academy was able to make contributions to congressional champions such as Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), among others, at fundraising events in Washington, D.C. 

The Academy also has made significant PAC contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), providing the Academy with access to political briefings and other events featuring key members of Congress. In turn, Academy government relations staff has been able to attend such events with audiologists visiting Washington. For example, members of the Academy’s Board of Directors attended an NRCC briefing in the fall, and a group, including a student from the University of Texas at Dallas, attended a DCCC briefing this spring. 

As members of Congress have ramped up their fundraising in advance of the 2018 congressional elections, the Academy has been able to capitalize on pre-existing relationships to send audiologists to local fundraising events for members of Congress. 

In January, the Academy made a contribution to Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), a long-time champion for hearing health care and a previous co-sponsor of the Access to Frontline Health Care Act, an Academy legislative priority. This contribution allowed two local audiologists and board members from the California Academy of Audiology to attend a fundraising reception with Rep. Garamendi in Vacaville, California. 

Several weeks later, the Academy’s PAC Chair, Emily Nairn, AuD, attended an event in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) that featured Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R). Rep. Walberg was integral when the Academy worked to rescind the U.S. Department of Labor’s hearing aid dispenser apprenticeship program. He also sits on the prestigious Energy and Commerce Committee, which has House jurisdiction over health-care issues. 

After the event, Dr. Nairn noted, “I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend a small fundraising reception for Rep. Walberg featuring Gov. Snyder. I was able to thank him for his previous support, and also to discuss with both he and Gov. Snyder other important issues and legislation facing the profession, including OTC hearing aids, tax reform and tuition waivers, and early hearing detection and intervention programs. These types of events are crucial in terms of keeping our profession in the forefront of our legislators’ minds and educating them on what we do and why we do it.”

Local PAC events also support the Academy’s advocacy initiatives by connecting audiologists who live and work in members of Congress’ home districts with advocacy staff in the Washington, DC, area. One of the most valuable aspects of congressional advocacy is when Academy members are able to talk directly to lawmakers and congressional staff about how specific policies debated in Congress affect constituents, including patients and health-care providers. By sharing these experiences, audiologists are able to connect policy proposals to real-world impact on audiology and hearing health care. 

When student groups or audiologists come to the Capitol to meet their elected officials, we often urge them to share why they chose to be an audiologist and to stress the impact that certain policies will have on them or their patients. These personal connections correlate to building stronger congressional relationships and translate to more meaningful conversations with members and their staffers. 

It is for this reason that the Academy has placed a renewed focus on member engagement through the Grassroots Advocacy Network. The Network serves as a ready resource of volunteers to assist the Government Relations Committee (GRC) and the Political Action Committee (PAC) Advisory Board to promote the organization’s policy agenda on behalf of audiology. The Academy has been active in working to grow this network so that we can successfully lobby members of Congress at the local level when Congress is considering important legislation. To join the Network and to learn about engagement opportunities such as attending local PAC events, visit www.audiology.org/advocacy/grassroots-advocacy-network. 

The Academy’s PAC is supported entirely by contributions from Academy members. Please visit www.audiology.org/advocacy/political-action-committee-pac to make your annual contribution to the Academy’s PAC. If you are interested in attending a local PAC event for your member of Congress on behalf of the Academy, or getting more involved in the Academy’s Grassroots Advocacy Network, please contact me directly at afinkel@audiology.org for more information. 

Please note: Corporate contributions (payment by company credit card or company check) and contributions from non-U.S. citizens without a Green Card are prohibited by law. Donations must be personal and voluntary. Contributions are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes.