NRECA’s political action committee has raised more than $4 million in the 2020 election cycle for U.S. House and Senate candidates who support electric cooperatives.
The Action Committee for Rural Electrification, better known as ACRE®, received $4,011,470 from January 2019 through August of this year, said Amy Lewis, ACRE’s deputy director. That’s nearly $650,000 more than ACRE raised during the same period for candidates in the 2018 congressional election.
The committee took in a record $4.2 million for the 2018 election and is on its way to meeting or exceeding that amount for the 2020 election despite having to cancel fundraising events because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said ACRE Director Gabe Snow.
So far, ACRE has contributed a total of more than $1.5 million to 351 House candidates, Lewis said. The nonpartisan committee has supported 165 Democrats, with total donations of $720,000, and 186 Republicans, with total donations of $847,000.
ACRE has contributed a total of $190,500 to 29 Senate candidates. There are far more Republican senators than Democratic senators up for re-election this year, so ACRE has given to more Republicans as a result. It has contributed a total of $42,000 to seven Democrats and a total of $148,500 to 22 Republicans, Lewis said.
Most of ACRE’s contributions have gone to incumbents that understand and support the electric cooperative industry, consumer-members and co-op communities, Snow said.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has listed only 28 House races as true “toss-ups,” meaning that candidates of either party have a roughly equal chance of winning. ACRE has made contributions to incumbents in 18 of those 28 races, Snow said.
ACRE also gives to both the Democratic and Republican House and Senate campaign committees, and it contributes to the leadership PACs run by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
ACRE does not contribute to presidential candidates.
Because of the pandemic, Snow and Lewis have had to forgo more than 20 trips they would normally take this year to help co-ops and statewide associations with fundraising efforts.
“The pandemic has eliminated the opportunity to cultivate and build relationships and ultimately do the in-person pitches,” Snow said.
However, ACRE has found new opportunities online. Earlier this month, 130 people registered for a virtual training camp for ACRE coordinators within statewide associations and co-ops. That’s about 100 more people than have participated in the in-person event in recent years, Snow said.
“Going virtual allows for an expanded universe with an audience that may not have had the travel budget to attend an in-person event in a traditional year,” he said.
The decisions about which candidates to support are made by ACRE’s steering committee, which is composed of Snow and select employees of the NRECA government relations staff. The steering committee consults with the corresponding statewide organizations prior to making all contributions.
ACRE receives voluntary grassroots contributions—which average about $65 a year—from more than 35,000 eligible co-op employees, directors and consumer-members in 47 states, Snow said. In general, hourly employees are not eligible to contribute because of laws designed to prevent workers from feeling coerced by their bosses to give. However, those employees are allowed to contribute if they are electric cooperative consumer-members, Snow said.
Erin Kelly is a staff writer at NRECA.
ACRE raises personal, voluntary contributions from NRECA’s eligible membership. Federal law prohibits soliciting contributions from individuals other than NRECA and member-systems’ eligible employees, boards of directors, consumer-members and the families of such individuals. Contributions from ineligible individuals will be returned. For more information on the ACRE program or eligibility to participate, please contact Gabe Snow, ACRE Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-907-5799.
Contributions to the NRECA Action Committee for Rural Electrification® (ACRE®) are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes. Contributions to ACRE are voluntary and will be used for political purposes. You have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Federal law prohibits contributions from foreign nationals who lack permanent resident status. Any contribution guidelines presented are merely suggestions. You are free to contribute more or less than the suggested amounts, or not at all. NRECA will not favor or disadvantage anyone by reason of the amount contributed or a decision not to contribute.