ACRE - Frequently Asked Questions
What is Co-op Owners for Political Action?
Co-op Owners for Political Action gives you, the consumer-owner, the opportunity to raise your voice on behalf of your cooperative. State and federal government officials make policy decisions that affect your local cooperative and your way of life. This program is an easy way for you to help determine who gets elected to make those decisions.
The Action Committee for Rural Electrification® (ACRE)® is the political action committee (PAC) of the nation’s electric cooperatives. Founded in 1966 by the approximately 1000 cooperatives of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), it supports candidates for state and federal office – those in office now and running for office – who will speak for and protect the interests of electric cooperatives and their consumer-owners.
Your participation in the nationwide COPA program ensures that the voice of electric cooperatives remains strong in our nation’s capital and in your state legislature. Maintaining a strong grassroots presence in the political process is instrumental to the long-term success of the electric cooperative program and the communities they serve in these unpredictable times.
What is a Political Action Committee?
The law allows individuals with common interests to pool their resources using PACs in order to make political contributions to candidates for state and federal office. Currently 33,000 like-minded supporters of the electric cooperative program combine their contributions through ACRE. Candidates who receive a substantial contribution from ACRE get an important message about your interest in your local community’s electric cooperative. The candidate knows that the electric cooperative consumer-owners and employees who supported them want to elect individuals to office who will make good policy decisions on their behalf.
Are Contributions Tax-Deductible?
No. The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that all political contributions, such as those to Co-op Owners for Political Action, are not tax deductible.
What Do I Receive for My Contribution?
The most important benefit that you receive as a COPA member is a voice in helping elect state and federal officials that will support your cooperative and your community. In addition, you will receive quarterly issues of the ACRE® Action newsletter, which includes legislative alerts, profiles of cooperative leaders, and other timely features.
Where Does My Contribution Go?
With the exception of a small federal tax payment of less than 1%, all contributions to Co-op Owners for Political Action go directly to the campaigns of candidates for political office. In addition, a portion of your contribution (about half) may be refunded to your state electric cooperative PAC to support candidates for state office.
Who Determines How These Contributions Are Made?
ACRE follows established procedures for making contributions to candidates running for political office. Factors that determine financial support include the candidate’s position on issues critical to electric cooperatives, as well as their votes and public statements on these issues; the candidate’s committee assignments and leadership positions and his or her relative importance to cooperatives; and a candidate’s financial need and the strength of his or her opponent. The candidate’s political affiliation is never taken into account.
Individual states have their own guidelines for making contributions to candidates for statewide offices. While these rules are set by the individual states, they often mirror those guidelines used by the national ACRE program.
Do I Really Make a Difference?
The cooperative model relies heavily upon members who take an active role in their cooperative's success. The personal dedication of consumer-owners to stand together forms the backbone of a powerful grassroots network that promotes policies to secure the future of your electric cooperative and the families they serve.