1.) Grassroots Events Achieve Results
Traditional lobby activities needed a boost and issue coalitions were seeking partners to enhance their positions on issues with Members of Congress, the Senate, the White House and regulatory offices such as the EPA.
Incorporated company and sought out contracts with corporations, associations and corporate coalitions to bring non-traditional allies to the table to assist in the efforts of my clients to meet their public policy goals. Worked with allies to educate their members and constituents on the issue of importance to my client, pointing out where they would have a vested interest in taking a position on the issue and in so doing elevating their profile. Most of the education process was through presentations at annual conferences where anywhere from 30 to over 100 people would attend the requisite session that was focused solely on the policy issue at hand. Always had informational materials for dissemination, and engaged in personal discussions with leaders of these advocacy groups such as the organizations president, its board members and most certainly, the chair of the environment and energy sub-committee.
Mobilization efforts have included letter-writing campaigns to the Congress, Senate and White House, petition drives undertaken at annual conference location, having an elected official testify at public hearings and/or before Congress, participate in media events, elected officials or business leaders writing and submitting letters to the editor, and other publications with key news outlets. Took advantage of a request from a local business magazine to contribute to their “Political Corner” with an article arguing for the elimination of the tax on dividends in 2003.
2.) Tax Exemptions Expanded
The elimination of the Estate Tax has been an objective for many small business owners and small farm owners for decades. It is seen as an affront to family members and an attack on being successful. Contracted to assist in the efforts to finally attain favorable legislation that would lead to the elimination of the estate tax, otherwise known as the “death tax”.
With the participation of important minority representatives, was able to assist in securing for the first time favorable legislation signed by President Bush in 2001 that phased out the estate tax in 2010.
One valuable protection in the law concerning exemptions was that each spouse was allowed to claim the maximum, so while the law provided for a graduated exemption amount of between $1 million in 2002 and $3.5 by 2009, with a tax rate on average of 45% for any amount of estate over the exempted level, the average estate value for farmers, using 2000 data as an example, was $1,814,000.
3.) Client’s Interests Advocated With Legislators
Long-term client seeks continuing engagement with state minority elected legislators to advance interests with regard to electricity policy and to ensure elected legislators will continually consider support for client’s federal policy position. Client’s membership consists of many coal-fired power plants which are a target of many Congressional members and the EPA for its carbon dioxide emissions when burned as a fuel source for electricity production.
The state legislators group has a caucus that the majority of minority state elected legislators belongs to. As part of this caucus, the corporate community has a roundtable as a means to promote their respective interests with the legislators. Accepted the position as Chairwoman of the Energy, Environment and Transportation committee for four years and Vice-Chairwoman of this committee for another four years.
Was able to advocate clients’ interests with the legislators and with other corporate members through direct interaction with caucus staff, president of the caucus, participation at annual conference and bi-annual corporate roundtable meetings. Results include the organizations support for Low-Income Heating and Energy Assistance legislation, national energy policy, and alternative fuel infrastructure development.
4.) Donations to Charities Increase After Promotional Campaign
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the three-month event set aside for annual charity drive within the Federal Government, seeks voluntary re-assignment of federal employees to manage the CFC within assigned offices and departments. Chose reassignment to participate in the charity drive and was responsible for the 15 offices that report to the Executive Office of the President. Responsibilities were to plan and execute CFC events at location, ensure employee participation at the event and advocating financial contribution to charities of choice by the employees.
Very successful in promoting my campaign events, having guest celebrities participate and subsequently, reporting a higher than previous year financial commitment from Federal employees working in assigned offices.
The year was a recession year so charities were facing lower contributions throughout the year. Was able to successfully “sell” to federal employees the importance of the CFC to these charities, and, in turn, the need and value of federal employee participation. Hence, the CFC saw increased donations that year despite it being a difficult economic environment nationwide. The 15 offices under personal responsibility all saw an increase in total amount given year over year.
5.) Fundraiser Generates $50,000
Client was seeking to add funds to its operating budget. With a proposal to increase annual dues among the membership rejected, I suggested that a fundraising event be held. After presenting idea to the Board of Directors and receiving agreement, I laid out the strategy of steps to be taken for the first black tie fundraising gala event.
Made contact with management of host sight, chose date based on site availability, negotiated host-site contract to include event expenses, worked with Association Executive Director to identify potential guests of honor to present to Board of Directors with instructions to choose two recipients. Once honorees were chosen, needed to coordinate with the honorees staff. Fundraising for the event was key and focus was the corporate community from personal network and professional sphere of influence. Contribution levels for the event ranged from $500 up to $10,000 for a corporate table.
The annual black-tie gala event raised approximately $35,000 per event for the eight years that the gala was held.
6.) Medical Services Review Saves Over $100,000
Client was seeking to gain more control over cost expenditures related to medical and dental care by US-based foreign military service members and their families. Previously, service personnel and family members had been allowed to pursue any medical treatment deemed necessary by medical service personnel or personally desired. However, due to financial cutbacks an oversight and approval process needed to be implemented both with regard to those seeking service and to those rendering service as the means for addressing spiraling expenditures.
Contracted to be the medical claims administrator with authority to approve all non-emergency, non-routine services and that all military service personnel, their family members and medical service personnel were required to seek such approval before any service was rendered. Worked with the third-party payment processing service to ensure that all claims received directly from medical providers were denied payment until proper authorization was received. All military personnel and their families were relayed the new regulations and any proposed or considered treatment needed approval before scheduling.
The subsequent result of this oversight was an organized process of approval and denial leading to medical cost controls and the elimination of a free for all mentality among service members and their families. The client was able to greatly reduce their annual medical expenses as compared to prior years. This saved hundreds of thousands over the years. Met biannually with Service Commander to review approved medical and dental services, those requests that were denied, and present the compilation of six-month data of services provided and their expenditures.
7.) Delay of Superfund Reauthorization Legislations Pass
Superfund reauthorization was of keen concern to corporate entities with compliance and financial obligations to the Superfund. Due to the nature of Superfund, a broad cross-section of the corporate community has an interest in EPA’s reauthorization process especially as it affects cleanup regulations and costs. Superfund has been one of the most contentious of environmental issues for the corporate community and one of the most volatile for the minority community as Environmental Justice is a prominent issue. Objective was to focus solely on the areas of commonality and the potential economic impacts on a community.
As a contractor to a Superfund coalition representing many fortune 500 manufacturing, oil and chemical companies, reached out to the minority allied groups that I had developed relationships with to educate them on Superfund, the difference between Superfund remediation and brownfields, and what is required under either situation and the financial obligations by the corporate community to the Superfund and possible consequences stemming from a hasty implementation of a poorly reauthorized statute. As with other client base, mobilization efforts concentrated on minority local elected officials and business organizations.
Grassroots focus was necessarily the National Conference of Black Mayors and the Black Chamber of Commerce as the mayors represented the communities of many existing sites and the chamber of commerce’ interests were in business development and growth opportunities. Successful in delivering public statements, declarations, and letters of support for coalition’s position to the EPA and Congress. Successful in getting on the record statements calling for careful consideration on developing Superfund reauthorization legislation, and until favorable regulation was achieved, bar the EPA from reinstituting financial contributions from the corporate community to the Superfund.
8.) Community Leaders Educated Regarding Economic Vitality
Under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the EPA is authorized to reevaluate the individual statutes that make up the CAA. Two of those statutes are Particulate Matter and Ozone, and are the two that are of most concern to communities and the businesses that operate in them. Addressing PM and Ozone from their sources is a very expensive proposition as any new determination means added technological devices on manufacturing or limiting activities that are associated with PM and Ozone creation. The most prominent adversarial effect in redetermining the statute levels is economic activity and job creation. Secondly, the most affected areas of PM and Ozone are urban communities.
As with Superfund Reauthorization, and on behalf of my client, set out to educate minority community leaders on the Clean Air Act Amendment related to PM and Ozone, why they need to understand the significance that adjusting the standards to a lower basis will have on economic vitality for their communities, and what they can do to have their voices and concerns heard.
The results of advocate education and mobilization efforts were that only slight to moderate adjustments to the PM and Ozone standards were enacted thereby greatly reducing adverse economic impact on business creation and expansion and the jobs that come along with such activity. The success of my actions bore tremendous fruit, and was able to return to these groups to mobilize them on further proposed adjustments to CAA amendments.
9.) Funding Secured for Important Projects
Two clients were seeking funding for the testing and expansion of infrastructure for alternative fuels as a means to lessen dependence on foreign imported crude. Client number one was facing difficulty with local fueling stations agreeing to commit one pump station to carry their higher ethanol blended fuel without adequate compensation which was based on the number of vehicles on the road that could potentially utilize this higher ethanol-blended fuel. Client number two was seeking funding for alternative fuel testing with one US military branch as a means of meeting the military’s directive of lowering their dependence on foreign imported fuel.
Secured the interest of key members of the Senate to have both clients projects funded through Congressionally appropriated dollars, totaling approximately $12 million.
Successful in securing this funding over a five-year period for each client. With the environment towards Congressionally directed funding more difficult due to House and Senate imposed moratoriums, supporting such projects going forward will necessarily require legislation that directly advocates development of projects such as my clients, obviously a more difficult and time-consuming process.
10.) Legislative Action Sought in Effort to Advance Renewable Fuel
A Cellulosic ethanol-fuels project was hindered by a law that prevented the use of required and readily available feedstock. Secondly, funding was sought to develop a facility that would utilize the available feedstock to manufacture the alternative fuel. Secured the support of a key member of the Senate for funding of $5 million toward the development of a manufacturing plant and had the request placed in the Senate Energy appropriations legislation. Met with Department of Agriculture staff in an effort to gain their support for changes to the law limiting access to the needed feedstock. They were noncommittal but were sympathetic to argument and were in agreement that changes needed to be considered. Met with Senate Energy committee staff lobbying for reopening of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) portion of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) 2007 arguing that in order to meet the EISA requirement of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2012, less restriction on feedstock had to be legislated.
As a result of no budget being introduced in the Senate for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 the manufacturing plant did not receive the requested funding. As well, since there has been no new energy legislation introduced, the feedstock restrictions legislated in EISA remain, creating an obstacle in meeting the fuels mandate, thereby forcing EPA to reconsider its renewable fuels content objectives.
Achieving success in changing language in existing law is difficult and has many competing interests. A new Congress and Senate, along with more time, is what will be needed to address this situation.