- What is the AIA Virginia PAC?
The AIA Virginia Political Action Committee (PAC) is the funding vehicle used to support legislators in office and candidates seeking elected office whose policy positions support the profession of architecture and align with our Directory of Public Policies and Position Statements. Contributions to the PAC are voluntary and shall in no way be a condition of membership in AIA Virginia. The PAC is governed by its own Board of Trustees, separately from AIA Virginia’s Board of Directors. However, the Chair of the Board of Trustees is the Vice President of Government Advocacy (from AIA Virginia’s Executive Committee) as an ex-officio member. The Executive Vice President of AIA Virginia also serves on the Board of Trustees as ex-officio.
- Why does the organization have to give money to legislators?
Shouldn’t legislators just do the right thing? It sounds like you are trying to buy votes.
We will never buy votes. Investing in legislators provides access and forms partnerships. Any legislator only has so much time to balance the competing demands, priorities, and requests that are a part of their job. Often, time allocations are as follows: constituents first, then supporters, and if any time remains after priorities are complete, it is allocated to everyone else.
Showing support for a legislator or candidate is done in one of two ways: time or money. Handing out flyers and knocking on doors to reach 140 individuals is unfeasible for an organization of our size. Therefore, we demonstrate our support through contributions, not unlike personally showing your support to a non-profit. For example, to advance the mission of Habitat for Humanity, one must either swing a hammer on site on a Saturday or make a financial contribution. This is the only way Habitat can achieve its goals and how it knows you exist as a resource.
The same principle holds true for a legislator or a candidate running for elected office. In addition, making a contribution to attend a legislative event provides the organization an opportunity to educate legislators about what we do as architects. This is the foundation for relationship-building and establishes AIA Virginia as a resource for consulting when certain bills are introduced during the General Assembly session. Remember, the Virginia General Assembly is comprised of members of varying backgrounds, professions, experiences, and cultures. Many have no idea what architects do or why what we do is important for a community. If we don’t speak for ourselves in terms of educating legislators, then you better believe that another entity will.
- The PAC only focuses on procurement issues. My firm does not do public work, so the PAC is irrelevant to me and provides no value to my firm.
The PAC benefits ALL firms. If you like the way you are allowed to practice in Virginia, then the PAC is relevant to you. We have established a positive legal framework for practicing in Virginia, and the PAC is essential to ensuring this framework continues to benefit the profession as a whole. Historically, you have heard the most about procurement for two reasons. First, many of the bills introduced in the General Assembly that have a negative impact on the profession involve procurement of design services using taxpayer dollars. Second, the AIA Virginia PAC’s historically low funding levels has allowed us to only be reactive and extinguish the “greatest fires.”
In reality, we advocate for issues outlined in our Directory of Public Policies and Position Statements, including the following: civic engagement, resiliency, mass transit, tort reform, regulation, the business of architecture, environmental responsibility, diversity + inclusion, accessibility, housing, historic preservation, and livable communities to name a few priorities. For example, AIA Virginia was instrumental in the passing of a bill that requires all school projects to be reviewed for security and crime prevention through building design elements during the 2019 General Assembly. Since 2018, our members’ perception of the PAC has shifted, and the PAC’s value is being recognized through increased investments. This investment is allowing AIA Virginia to begin shifting to advancing many of these issues.
- Why is this now just coming up? The PAC has been around for some time and everything has seemed to be going alright.
The PAC is unique in that members participate voluntarily, yet the benefits impact everyone in our profession. AIA VA’s PAC initiative is the only equitable way to fully support the many elements of advocacy. Prior to 2018, less than 3% of our membership invested in the PAC. Though this number has improved since last year, it is far from reaching a level that is meaningful and sustainable. As such, 100% of the 2020 dues increase will be transferred to the PAC unless one decides to opt-out.
In March 2019, a survey of 2,338 AIA Virginia members and allied members garnered nearly a 20% response rate. The responses clearly indicated the value of advocacy to members. Surveys have also shown that members desire the AIA to be more instrumental in the public realm and proactively promote the value of architects and architecture. Our PAC is the first step in building relationships with policymakers and those who have influence over our profession and the built environment.
- I thought a portion of my dues went to Government Advocacy. Tell me again, what is this for?
Currently, a portion of your AIA Virginia dues goes toward paying lobbyist fees and day-to-day business operations of performing advocacy. Today, no portion of your dues goes to supporting political candidates for elected office or legislators currently in office. Support of those individuals is provided through the PAC.
- How do you decide which candidates to support?
The PAC Board of Trustees, which consists of AIA members, develops a Disbursement Plan using counsel from our lobbyist team at Williams Mullen. Primarily, we focus on individuals who sit on the House and Senate General Laws Committees and members of the House and Senate leadership. Many bills that impact the profession of architecture land in the General Laws Committee. This does not mean that other Committees are unimportant; we strategically contribute to members on other Committees as our available PAC member investments allow.
- Does the AIA Virginia PAC benefit candidates for national office or U.S. House and Senate legislators?
No. AIA National has a PAC called ArchiPAC, which supports legislators in the U.S. House and Senate as well as candidates for national office—a completely different undertaking than the AIA Virginia PAC. The AIA Virginia PAC is used to support legislators in the Virginia House of Delegates and Virginia Senate as well as candidates for state office.
- How much money do you need in the PAC to be successful?
Based on our Disbursement Plan, which targets primarily the House and Senate General Laws Committees and House and Senate leadership, a minimum of $30,000 annually is required to be impactful and proactive. As we continue to mature in the legislative arena and proactively advocate for issues in accordance with AIA VA’s Directory of Public Policies and Position Statements, more money is required annually. This is because many of those issues fall with Committees outside of General Laws.
A meaningful contribution from an organization our size ranges from $500 to $1,500, depending on the legislator’s rank and influence. Our 2019 Disbursement Plan consists of 36 individuals and 5 caucus events. Our PAC goal for this year is $35,000. The PAC Opt-In is estimated to generate $20,000 annually. This alone is insufficient. AIA Virginia will still require additional PAC investments to be successful.
- Before this proposed PAC initiative, how much did the PAC generate previously?
In 2015 and 2016, the PAC generated an amount of money equivalent to less than $1.50 per AIA Virginia member. In 2017, AIA Virginia members invested just over $6,833. In the same year, PACs representing engineers and contractors each ranged from $50,000 to $65,000. This is a factor of 10! AIA Virginia’s historic levels of PAC participation are unsustainable for ensuring the health of our profession in the state.
In 2018, AIA Virginia developed and implemented a multi-pronged strategy to communicate the value and importance of the PAC to members. It worked! Last year, we are proud to say AIA Virginia members and firms invested nearly $22,000.
- Are there any other AIA state components that do this?
Yes. However, PAC laws vary from state to state. In 2018, the Board of Directors undertook extensive research and planning to position themselves to take action this August. Part of the process included discussions with state components that allocate a portion of their dues to a PAC in a similar way such as AIA Georgia, AIA Illinois, and AIA New Jersey.
- You all lean a little too heavily toward one particular party for my liking. How much money did you give to Democrats vs. Republicans?
The AIA Virginia PAC is non-partisan. Contributions to one political party may be greater than the other in any given year due to the composition of the General Laws Committees. The political party in power will have more individuals on any respective Committee [not just General Laws] and also Chair committees. As of 2019, the House and Senate are both narrowly controlled by Republicans. As such, our 2019 Disbursement Plan has allocated $15,500 to Republicans and $12,500 to Democrats.
- Do you support AIA members that run for state office?
Yes, and we encourage it! In 2019, one of our members ran for the 57th District House seat. Through our PAC, we were able to invest $1,225 in this member.
- Do I get a check back for the amount of the dues increase if I decide not to allocate it as a PAC investment?
By Virginia law, an organization cannot mandate that you contribute to a PAC. As such, AIA Virginia will allow those who wish to not invest in the PAC to have their dues increase go to the organization’s General Operating Fund. No rebates will be issued.
- Will this allocation to the PAC occur annually?
Currently, the plan is to defer a portion of dues money to the PAC annually starting in 2020. A member will ALWAYS have the option to move that portion to the General Operating Fund instead. This allocation does not always mean dues will be raised by an established amount. For example, in the absence of a dues increase, the intent to make a PAC deferral from membership dues remains.
AIA Hampton Roads Still Holds Narrow Lead in “Rumble in the Jungle” PAC Competition
- AIA Hampton Roads – 60 points
- AIA Central Virginia – 50 points
- AIA Richmond – 40 points
- AIA Northern Virginia – 20 points
- AIA Blue Ridge – 0 points
Winner receives $1,000 for its use for Architecture Week 2020.
As of July 1, no Board has reached 100% PAC participation.
Invest at www.aiavapac.org
Below outlines point allocations:
Local component Board participation
Did 100% of the Board of Directors invest into the AIA Virginia PAC?
- Yes = 20 points
- No = 0 points
Percentage of local component’s members who have invested in the AIA Virginia PAC
- Component with highest % = 40 points
- Component with second highest % = 20 points
- Component with third highest % = 10 points
Average investment per member from the total local component membership
- Component with highest average investment/member = 40 points
- Component with second highest average investment/member = 30 points
- Component with third highest average investment/member = 20 points
- Component with fourth highest average investment/member = 10 points
- Component with fifth highest average investment/member = 0 points
The scoring will be closed on October 31, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EST.
The AIA Virginia PAC Award looks to celebrate the engagement and commitment of a local AIA component who supports the advancement and mission of the PAC. The Award will be presented at Architecture Exchange East to the local component’s Board of Directors who will accept the award on behalf of its respective membership. The Award criteria is based on a point total calculation based on three areas: local component Board participation, percentage of local component’s membership who have invested in the PAC, and total amount of money invested by the members of the local component.
The 2019 RUMBLE in the JUNGLE for the AIA Virginia Political Action Committee Award Commences
Like many professions, architects have interests that specifically impact our profession, practice, and our community. The legislative and regulatory environment is arguably the most important arena that impacts how we provide our professional services. We, as architects, want to have an influential voice in this arena which allows us to control our destiny. We can’t have an influential voice without having relationships. As such, the PAC allows us to build these necessary relationships.
The AIA Virginia PAC Award looks to celebrate the engagement and commitment of a local AIA component who supports the advancement and mission of the PAC. The Award will be presented at Architecture Exchange East to the local component’s Board of Directors who will accept the award on behalf of the its respective membership. The Award criteria is based on a point total calculation based on three areas: local component Board participation, percentage of local component’s membership who have invested in the PAC, and total amount of money invested by the members of the local component.
Invest today in the PAC at www.aiavapac.org.
Below outlines point allocations:
1. Local component Board participation
a. Did 100% of the Board of Directors invest into the AIA Virginia PAC?
i. Yes = 20 points
ii. No = 0 points
2. Percentage of local component’s members who have invested in the AIA Virginia PAC
i. Component with highest % = 40 points
ii. Component with second highest % = 20 points
iii. Component with third highest % = 10 points
3. Average investment per member from the total local component membership
i. Component with highest average investment/member = 40 points
ii. Component with second highest average investment/member = 30 points
iii. Component with third highest average investment/member = 20 points
iv. Component with fourth highest average investment/member = 10 points
v. Component with fifth highest average investment/member = 0 points
The scoring will be closed on October 31, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EST.
At the AIA Virginia Board of Directors luncheon on Friday, December 8, 2017, three members were recognized with sustained giving awards for 6 consecutive years of gifts to the AIA Virginia Political Action Committee (PAC).
Congratulations to Tim Colley, AIA, Bill Brown, AIA and Nick Vlattas, AIA.
Join these members by making your contribution today! www.aiavapac.org
Damian Seitz, AIA, 2016 President of AIA Hampton Roads, and AIA Virginia director, made an exciting announcement at the June 17th AIA Virginia Board of Directors meeting. 100% of the AIA Hampton Roads board has contributed to the AIA Virginia PAC this year! This is amazing and we are so grateful for the support!
How about your chapter board? We challenge you to get 100% participation from your chapter board by donating at www.aiavapac.org today!
Through the PAC, the membership of AIA Virginia supports candidates who understand the architecture profession. When these candidates win, they bring that understanding to the General Assembly and to your issues. You and your firm benefit.
By speaking with a united voice, architects influence government actions that affect our profession and the quality of life for all Virginians. AIA Virginia uses the collective power of its membership to participate in the legislative and regulatory policy making process.
Through the PAC, the membership of AIA Virginia supports candidates for state office who understand the profession and support its goals.
The AIA Virginia PAC supports candidates without regard to party.
AIA Virginia PAC has options.
• Give online
• Mail your check (payable to AIAVA PAC) to AIA Virginia, 2501 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220
• Contact Rhea George at (804) 237-1768 to discuss other ways to give or to get involved.
A new initiative to foster closer relationships between Society members and their elected state representatives shows promise for the future. Instead of providing campaign contributions to candidates via mail, VSAIA members hand delivered the organization’s 2011 donations.
Although some appeared uncertain about the task they were asked to accomplish, all provided positive feedback from the short — 10-15 minute — conversations with their delegate or senator.
None of the architects discussed legislation. They were asked to talk about the economy, their work, their elected official’s work, or fishing. The goal was to make a connection with the legislator on any level other than legislation.
These people are elected to represent their constituency. The better they know architects within that constituency, the better they can represent the profession. Bill Brown, AIA, with BeeryRio Architecture + Interiors, for example, met with Del. David Bulova (D-Fairfax) for at least the third time.
However, this was the first time he delivered a contribution for the profession. The other times he was speaking on legislative issues. Perhaps because of their previous meetings and that talk of legislation was forbidden, Brown and Bulova discovered a common interest: playing guitar.
Kelly Southard, AIA, of Gillum Architects in Orange took a VSAIA contribution to Del. Ed Scott (R-Culpeper). This was Southard’s first experience representing the profession. “Thank you for asking me to do this, it was a very pleasurable experience,” he wrote.
In all cases, the VSAIA members were asked to offer their expertise on the various issues that may come before the legislators in the future and to reiterate the breadth of an architect’s range of work including building codes, planning, land use, sustainability, historic preservation, and design.
So far, the VSAIA has provided $7,250 to candidates — eight Democrats and eight Republicans — running in this November’s election. Those in hotly contested races might receive more. All were on the House or Senate General Laws Committee or in leadership positions.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the VSAIA PAC may do so by sending a check to VSAIA PAC, 2501 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220. The VSAIA suggests that each member contribute an amount equal to one billable hour and that each firm match that amount.
In addition to Brown and Southard, the members who participated in delivering the campaign contributions for the VSAIA included Bill Black, AIA, Jim Boyd, AIA, Jon Covington, AIA, Charles Enos, AIA, Lynden Garland, Jr., AIA, Keith Hayes, Assoc. AIA, Hunter Hurt, AIA, Wayne Mortimer, AIA, Charles Piper, AIA, David Puckett, AIA, Jeff Stodghill, AIA, Charles Tilley, AIA, and Kirk Train, FAIA.
A rousing start to the election season was generated by contributions and pledges to the VSAIA political action committee campaign by long-time supporter Gauthier Alvarado & Associates in Falls Church and relative PAC newcomer HDR in Alexandria.
Rob Morris, III, AIA, PE, presented his firm’s traditional $1,000 check to the PAC in December. Jim Draheim, AIA, announced his firm’s pledge of $2,000 in March. Both have combined their firms’ support with personal efforts to increase the level of participation in the PAC. They are sending letters to their peers in several firms encouraging them to join in supporting the PAC and asking that they also encourage their employees to do the same.
Ed Gillikin, AIA, VSAIA vice president for government advocacy, and the members of the government and industry affairs committee ask that individuals contribute the equivalent of one hour’s billable time to the PAC. They request that firms contribute a like amount.
With all 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly open this year, the campaign goal will be to top the PAC’s previous best year of $23,630 contributed in 2006.
The PAC supports the campaigns of those candidates who have shown an understanding of what the profession does and of how architects affect the quality of life within their communities. If a candidate is running for the first time, the VSAIA considers its members’ evaluations. For incumbents, the VSAIA concentrates its support on those who serve in leadership positions and those who serve on the General Laws committees in the House and Senate. This committee reviews nearly 90 percent of the bills affecting the profession.
A candidate’s party affiliation is not considered. Historically, the VSAIA PAC’s contributions run just about 50-50 on supporting Democrats and Republicans. Information on past activity can be obtained from the Virginia Public Access Project website http://www.vpap.org/committees/profile/home/600. VAPA’s home site is www.VPAP.org.
It takes time to build rapport and trust between the architects and elected officials. This is done through individual meetings among the VSAIA legislative counsel, staff and members, and the legislators. Those in office depend on us for information about the possible impact of a bill. We depend on them to weigh that information with other sources and to reach a reasonable conclusion when the votes are taken.
To maintain the investment in these relationships, the VSAIA needs to support those candidates who supported restricting unlicensed practice, who supported limiting by contract an architect’s liability, and who support the concept of qualifications-based selection for public projects.
In supporting the PAC, you are supporting your firm and your ability to practice your profession. Please contribute to the PAC today by sending a check equal to one-hour’s billable time to the VSAIA PAC, 2501 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220.