AFM Lobbying Efforts Need Your Dollars

By Hair, Ray | International Musician, August 2012 | Go to article overview

AFM Lobbying Efforts Need Your Dollars


Hair, Ray, International Musician


One of the AFM's crucial functions is to be a political presence in Washington, lobbying for musicians' issues. In the past few years, we have achieved several victories in Congress, including two pension reform bills that provided additional relief to multiemployer plans such as the AFM's, which are suffering from the economic recession.

The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 expands health care coverage to 32 million Americans, including many AFM members currently without coverage. Musicians are one step closer to being able to fly with their instruments without fear thanks to the national instrument policy in the FAA reauthorization passed in February.

The AFM and its allies have worked to preserve funding for the arts and tax incentives for charitable giving in spite of severe budget cuts across the board. We continue to aggressively pursue a performance right for music played on AM/FM radio and the protection of intellectual property from online piracy.

None of these achievements would be possible without strong relationships with members of Congress, both Democratic and Republican. Many of our legislative champions have backgrounds in music or labor, but all of them understand the challenges AFM members face in trying to make a living as professional musicians. It is important to thank our friends in Congress for the hard work they do on behalf of musicians. A political action committee (PAC) such as AFM's TEMPO Fund makes that possible.

In order to have an impact in Washington, DC, the AFM must be able to make significant contributions to candidates. This means as much as $5,000 to our biggest champions in Congress, and often at least $1,000 to all of our friends. But despite our broad member base, the AFM has had significant difficulty in soliciting its membership for PAC contributions. This inhibits our lobbying influence and makes it difficult to achieve our legislative goals. In the 2003-2004 election cycle, AFM members contributed nearly $100,000 to TEMPO. Unfortunately, TEMPO has seen a considerable decline in contributions over the past several years. Thus far in the 2011-2012 election cycle, TEMPO has collected just over $36,000. By law, AFM's general treasury funds cannot be used for political contributions, which means that all TEMPO funds must come from voluntary member contributions.

To that end, I will soon be recommending several changes to PAC operations, but presently and due to the immediate need for TEMPO funding, I am recommending fundraising targets for locals, which I hope encourage locals to play a more active role in soliciting contributions and participation among members. …

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