By Denny Wright, HUPAC Chair
Many times I am asked a common reoccurring question by members “what is the difference between ISAHUPAC and HUPAC”? Another common question I am asked frequently is “which PAC should I contribute to, ISAHUPAC or HUPAC”?
The answer to the last question is short…both! But the answer to the first is more complicated. The primary reason the answer is complicated is because political campaign contributions are highly regulated, both at the federal and state levels, and campaign finance laws are very complicated.
To understand the differences between HUPAC and ISAHUPAC as well as why each PAC is necessary, we need to discuss how each is structured and regulated.
HUPAC is the acronym for the Heath Underwriters Political Action Committee in Washington, DC, which is the federal political action committee sponsored by the National Association of Health Underwriters.
ISAHUPAC is the acronym for the Indiana State Association of Health Underwriters Political Action Committee, which is sponsored by our state chapter.
While HUPAC is affiliated with NAHU, it actually is a separate legal entity with separate goverence (both separate bylaws and a separate Board of Trustees from NAHU).
HUPAC primarily gives contributions to candidates for federal office, although under its goverence, HUPAC is also allowed to make contributions to other political action committees as well as certain candidates for state office, such as Governor and State Insurance Commissioner (if the State Insurance Commissioner is an elected officeholder and not an appointed position), as long as campaign finance laws of a particular state allow a federal PAC to contribute to state candidates. Federal campaign finance law is regulated by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in Washington DC.
State campaign finance laws vary greatly by state and in Indiana, campaign finance law is regulated by the Indiana Lobbying Commission, a sub-agency under the Indiana Secretary of State.
HUPAC is required under federal law to make certain, statutory filings with the FEC such as who HUPAC contributors are and the amounts they contribute.
HUPAC is also required to make statutory filings to the FEC reporting all contributions paid out of the PAC to candidates and other PACs. Under Indiana law, ISAHUPAC is required to make similar filings with the Indiana Lobbying Commission.
HUPAC is organized and has filed status with the FEC as a “connected PAC”, which requires that only NAHU members and NAHU employees can legally contribute to HUPAC.
Spouses of NAHU members and NAHU employees can also legally contribute to HUPAC.
The maximum annual contribution any eligible contributor can give to HUPAC is $5,000 and all contributions must be personal (no contributions from corporations or NAHU chapters), however, corporate and chapter contributions can be accepted by HUPAC for the “admin fund”, which can only be used for certain administrative and overhead expenses.
Under current federal law, admin fund contributions cannot be used to fund any candidate for office contributions. Another important issue is anytime a state PAC or any NAHU state/local chapter contributes directly to any federal candidate, the FEC considers all NAHU local and state chapters’ as one common entity under NAHU and federal election law requires those federal contributions to be included in the HUPAC statutory FEC filings, which greatly complicates HUPAC reporting to the FEC and is why state/local chapter contributions to federal candidates are discouraged.
There have been instances in the past where local/state chapter federal contributions were made and not reported to NAHU or HUPAC, thus not being reported to the FEC, causing compliance issues with the FEC.
While campaign finance laws in the State of Indiana are must less restrictive than many other states, there still are many statutory requirements that ISAHUPAC must comply with too complex for purposes of this article, however, individuals or corporations can contribute to ISAHUPAC and you do not even have to be a ISAHU or even NAHU member to contribute to ISAHUPAC, unlike HUPAC. Because ISAHUPAC is not registered with the FEC, it does not give contributions to federal candidates, only state candidates.
Hopefully, if you are still reading this article, you now understand the difference between the two PACs and you understand the legal reasons why we need to have two separate PACs, one for candidates for federal office and one for state office candidates.
Next month in this series, we will discuss the importance why all members need to contribute to both. Thanks to all of you for everything you do to support our association!