Risky Business? Pac Decisionmaking in Congressional Elections

By Robert Biersack; Paul S. Herrnson et al. | Go to book overview

8 The Eaton Corporation Public Policy Association: Ideology, Pragmatism, and Big Business

Joe Ferrara

The Eaton Corporation, an automotive and electronics firm ranked 112th in a recent Fortune 500 listing, founded its Eaton Corporation Public Policy Association (EPPA) in 1977 and has been an active and innovative player in the corporate PAC community ever since. Known for its stringent contribution standards and effective targeting of races, EPPA was formed "to help preserve and strengthen the American business system and the American tradition of economic and political freedom." 1 The company itself was founded in 1911 and got its start as a manufacturer of truck axles. Since then, Eaton has diversified broadly and now manufactures and markets over 5,000 products. Its principal business revolves around truck, power-train, and automobile components and electrical equipment. In the early 1980s, it was awarded a major defense contract to manufacture electronic countermeasures equipment for the Air Force's B-1 bomber.

EPPA is interesting to study for several reasons. First, unlike many corporate PACs, EPPA concentrates on challengers and open-seat races rather than incumbents. This characteristic alone makes EPPA a unique PAC in today's political environment. 2 Second, EPPA displays an interesting blend of pragmatism and ideology in the way it manages its political activity. Finally, EPPA presents a good case study of the American corporate PAC in action.


History

John Hushen, currently Eaton vice president for corporate affairs and former chairman of EPPA, was instrumental in the founding of EPPA. Hushen came to

-93-

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