Advocacy is NOT a Spectator Sport

I write this as a direct reaction to recent developments in the news media related to the IRS’s use of promotional products as giveaways to employees attending conferences.  The context was a negative one, as part of the firestorm of IRS scrutiny for unscrupulous business practices, and the promotional products in question are made to seem to be unnecessary, wasteful, and another symbol of IRS mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.  (A link to one of the many pieces of media coverage about this topic is HERE.)

The current potential for negative backlash is enormous, and it’s important that we as the members of this industry work to impress upon our elected representatives the potential impact said negative response might engender.

In March’s post (to read the post in its entirety, click HERE), I referenced the potential for damaging legislation in a made-up scenario.  I certainly wasn’t hoping for it to come true, but sometimes the need for politicians to appear to be making a difference can take unusual forms, and a knee-jerk reaction to the negative publicity about the IRS could affect us.

As mentioned in my APRIL post, your legislators will be back in their home offices for August recess.  Consider this topic a great reason for you to start a personal dialogue with your legislator now, and an even better reason to find that member of Congress while he/she is home.  If they know you, the industry in which you make your living, and the potential impact of limiting what you do, those knee-jerk reactions may not be as easy to execute.

As members of our regional associations, I can’t stress how important it is for us to have relationships with our elected representatives.  When something like the scenario described above occurs, it’s better to have an open line of communication with those people than to use the event as your first opportunity to talk with them.  In any event, action is necessary at the local level to prevent negative consequences.

In my travels this year, I have heard time and again that regional associations are interested in developing ways to reach out to their non-members.  I can’t think of a more important reason than to rally around protecting our industry, and situations like the one that is developing around the IRS are great reasons to ask non-members to get involved.  They don’t have to be members to care about their livelihood, and working hand-in-hand with non-members to ensure the continued viability of our industry gives the non-member a reason to consider membership.

If you’d like to help sooner, please click HERE for a link to the official response from PPAI as well as instructions about how to notify your member of Congress about the response.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.


Roger Burnett, CAS

President, 2013 RAC Board of Directors