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AVMA calls for PAC donations


2.7 percent of association members contributed $256,948, officials report

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — Annual contributions to the American Veterinary Medical Association's Political Action Committee (PAC) hover just over the $250,000 mark, sparking a fund-raising drive and a push to increase the number of donating DVMs.

A report released Jan. 12 during the House of Delegate's Winter Session in Schaumburg, Ill., shows 2,065 donors — just 2.7 percent of AVMA's membership — contributed $256,948 between Jan. 1, 2007, and Jan. 1, 2008. The average contribution was $124, working out to just $3.34 per AVMA member.

"If all 76,935 AVMA members contributed $10 a year to the PAC, we would be at more than $1.5 million," says Dr. Mark Lutschuanig, director of AVMA's Governmental Relations Division in Washington. "At $25 a year, and we would be a $3.8 million PAC."

Pledge drive

The news prompted a pledge drive originally issued in 2004, seeking 10 percent participation among association members and $1 million by 2008.

The PAC allows AVMA to contribute to the campaigns of federal congressional and senatorial candidates. With initiatives such as support for the National Veterinary Medical Services Act and pay equity for federal veterinarians under way, it's considered an important tool that allows association leaders to gain access to policy makers.

Last year's contributions include $123,000 going to 82 Democrats and $108,000 to 73 Republicans. One $2,000 contribution was made to an independent lawmaker.

"We use PAC money to advance the AVMA's legislative agenda. It allows us to tell our story to members of Congress," Lutschaunig explains.

Contribution contest

To spark interest, the association has kicked off a donation race, publicly congratulating the biggest contributors (California, $32,475; Illinois, $22,060; Florida, $18,885), areas with the highest donations per capita (Delaware, $15.79; Nevada, $10.47; Washington, D.C., $10.42) and largest contributions by veterinary medical programs (Iowa State University, $25,655; The Ohio State University, $20,650; University of Georgia, $18,245).

Last summer, AVMA hired Christine Baker to raise PAC funds.

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