1. What is a Political Action Committee?
A PAC – Political Action Committee – is an organization of individuals with a common interest, who maximize their impact on campaigns and elections. The central idea behind a PAC is to allow like-minded persons (employees, community members, trade association members, issue advocates, etc.) a convenient way to pool their financial resources and on a coordinated and centralized basis, make contributions to candidates. PACs are a logical extension of our democratic process – they are legal, ethical, and strictly regulated by the U.S. federal laws. PACs help ensure that ordinary citizens can – and do – play a role in the election of qualified people to represent them in the government.
2. Why do Indian-Americans need a PAC?
PACs allow communities with like-minded interests to create an authentic channel that reflects the community’s views and defends its interests. An Indian-American PAC provides an organized way to promote candidates who support legislation that will benefit the community and advance the interests of the Indian-American community members. By working to enhance advocacy on behalf of the Indian-American community, USINPAC provides a platform for their voice.
3. Why bipartisan?
USINPAC is a bipartisan organization that works to impact policy on issues of concern to the Indian-American community in the US. We have enhanced the community’s presence and its issues on Capitol Hill and given Indian-Americans a stronger voice in the legislative process. USINPAC’s activities focus on strengthening a grassroots network to work on issues concerning the community. We work with other Indian-American organizations to promote fair and balanced policies. USINPAC provides bipartisan support to candidates running for federal, state, and local office who support the issues that are important to the Indian-American community.
4. What does USINPAC do?
USINPAC is bipartisan. It supports candidates who support issues that are of importance to the Indian-American community. USINPAC also provides and creates awareness on issues about and within the Indian-American community to Congress.
5. How does USINPAC differ from other PACs?
In Congress, most major issues need bipartisan support. Hence it is in the community’s interest to work with Republicans and Democrats. The interests, concerns, and issues of the community can only be fully safeguarded when it enjoys support across both political parties.
USINPAC members do not have to change their party preferences to become a member. By joining USINPAC, you can support the cause without changing your party affiliations or preferences and influence the outcome by participating in a collective and organized process.
6. Do Indian-Americans have other PACs?
USINPAC is not aware of any bipartisan PAC that represents the entire spectrum of Indian-American issues.
7. What are the benefits of USINPAC?
- USINPAC enhances the Indian-American community’s presence on the Hill and gives the community a stronger voice in the legislative process in a bipartisan manner.
- USINPAC has professionals who spend all their time on Capitol Hill following up on issues of significance. It has policy experts who draft policy papers that provide a thoughtful and fact-based approach to issues. This is favorably viewed on Capitol Hill. Just like a business hires an accounting firm for audit/tax needs, the Indian-American community for all its diversity on issues needs an organization like USINPAC that can provide professional, passionate advocacy, and thoughtful response to issues.
- We pool the political contributions and voices of USINPAC members. Individual efforts are important; however they get fragmented; USINPAC allows the sum of the whole to be bigger than the parts; i.e. Members on the Hill get a sense of our effectiveness by our collective voice and pooling of resources.
- USINPAC provides its members with opportunities to meet with Members of Congress and state their views on key issues. Those who participate in political events and support candidates have many opportunities to get to know those candidates. While such participation does not guarantee a positive outcome, it does ensure that our issues are clearly heard and understood, and more importantly, it shows the Members of Congress that the entire 3.2 million Indian-Americans are behind it and gives the issue more weightage.
- USINPAC is also critical if the community is to effectively oppose candidates who support legislative issues that are not supported by the community; e.g.: unconditional support to financial aid to Pakistan.
- The bottom line is that the USINPAC provides an avenue via which USINPAC members have a stronger political voice and more visibility on both sides of the aisle (Republicans and Democrats).
8. There are a lot of Indian-American organizations, so why USINPAC?
USINPAC serves a unique and important role for the Indian-American community. USINPAC focuses on issues affecting the Indian-American community, influences U.S. policy and ensures that interests of the community are represented effectively on Capitol Hill. No other organization serves this specific purpose. The Indian-American community is a very diverse community and it is lucky to have a lot of other wonderful organizations; USINPAC works and collaborates with some of them.
9. What was USINPAC's role in the US-India nuclear deal?
USINPAC played a key and significant role in influencing the outcome of the US-India nuclear deal. Since the deal’s inception in 2005, USINPAC was at the forefront of advocating and lobbying the U.S. Congress and Indian policy-makers and tirelessly worked with the Indian-American community to see the passage of this agreement for more than three years. The efforts included grassroot activism around the nation and working on a daily basis with members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill. We worked to garner support for the Deal by highlighting its economic, environmental, and trade benefits for the US.
Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) commending the Senate’s vote for the Deal said, “Tonight’s vote is a culmination of those efforts which will re-define US-India relations for generations to come and USINPAC should be recognized for the significant work they have done to bring this agreement about.”
10. Where can I get statistical information about Indian-Americans?
The ‘Indian-Americans’ tab on the USINPAC website gives detailed statistical information about the Indian-American community in the US.
11. What issues does USINPAC work on?
We work on issues that concern the Indian-American community in the US. USINPAC’s work so far has involved around the issues of Terrorism and Homeland Security, US-India Trade, Immigration and the HIV/AIDS India Initiative, and supporting qualified Indian-American candidates. USINPAC also provides a platform for providing responses to insensitive comments and remarks about Indian Americans sometimes made by political or media leaders. USINPAC has worked extensively on the US-India Nuclear Deal.
12. How can I be a part of USINPAC?
USINPAC offers you various options for participation. You can volunteer, contribute financially or participate in a campus effort. You can become a member of USINPAC by simply clicking here. You can also get involved by contributing to the USINPAC forums and blogs, or supporting a petition. USINPAC also invites you to send photos and videos and buy USINPAC merchandise.
13. How can I contribute to USINPAC blogs and forums?
You can contribute to USINPAC blogs and forums by becoming a USINPAC member.My Account provides you a unique username and password to access your USINPAC members account and be a part of the discussions that matter to the Indian-American community.
14. Can I initiate a petition?
USINPAC welcomes its members’ initiative in starting petitions about issues affecting the Indian-American community. You can do so by visiting the Petitions link in the Take Action section.
15. What kind of events does USINPAC organize?
USINPAC organizes various political events, Congressional briefings, fundraisers, receptions, trade and political delegations and round-table discussions. Our events give our members the opportunity to meet Members of Congress and present their views on different issues that matter to them.
16. Where can I find information about my Representative?
You can find information and track your representative by visiting the Track Congress section of the USINPAC website. This feature allows you to find information about your Representative and understand their views on US-India Relations and other issues that affect you.
17. I am a student. How can I participate in USINPAC?
USINPAC has Campus Chapters in various universities across the U.S. including Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. You can join the campus community in your City or State, or even start your own Campus Chapter by visiting the Communities section on the USINPAC website.
18. What does a State Chapter do?
State Chapters work to increase local participation and activism within the Indian American community. These Chapters are initiated and managed by politically active Indian Americans in their States/Cities/Regions. These chapters have the advantage of autonomy while having a National Organization’s infrastructure. As all politics is local, it gives the Indian-American community a grassroot presence while having a consistent voice and message on key issues.
19. What does a Campus Chapter do?
The USINPAC Campus Chapters work to increase political awareness among young Indian-Americans and provide a forum for students to learn and discuss issues facing them today. These Chapters are located at universities across the US, including Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. These Chapters are initiated and managed by students in key campuses and their vision is to be engaged in issues that are of specific interest to them. USINPAC also provides them with opportunities for internships on Capitol Hill, Federal Agencies, and other avenues to get them the experience and exposure to the political and policy framework.
20. I'm already politically active, so why should I support USINPAC?
If you are already politically active, that’s great! USINPAC is not intended to be a substitute for your own personal involvement. Instead, it is an additional and very effective means of political engagement.
When you support a candidate with your personal dollars, that candidate may or may not know why you are making a contribution or which issues are of the utmost importance to you. When your contributions are made via USINPAC, they are clearly identified with an interest that you share with USINPAC. Therefore your contributions are more effective if these are made via an organization like USINPAC.
Remember also that all U.S. Representatives and Senators vote on issues that directly concern you – not just the one that represents your district or state. USINPAC assesses the qualifications of candidates from all over the nation and directs financial support to where it will do the best. We are able to work behind the scenes to do research and gather information via our in house full-time legislative staff that is part of the USINPAC team.
USINPAC can also help you in other ways – e.g. if you are hosting a political event or a fundraiser, USINPAC, where appropriate, will come in and provide you the support that you need through it.
21. Is there a minimum suggested amount that must be contributed to participate in USINPAC?
Contributions to the USINPAC are strictly voluntary and the decision to participate is entirely up to you. USINPAC has established several levels of giving:
- USINPAC supporter: any amount
- USINPAC Gold committee: $1000
- Leadership Committee: $5000
- National Council: $10000
- Senatorial Club: $15000
- Chairman’s circle: $25000
There are no minimum contributions. The smaller ones, such as $25 or $50 are appreciated as much as other contributions. The maximum calendar year contribution per individual is $5000.
22. Is my contribution tax deductable?
No. Contributions to the USINPAC are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.
23. Why shouldn't a USINPAC member just directly contribute to a candidate, rather than via the USINPAC?
- USINPAC helps you to dramatically multiply your contribution impact on the political process.
- PACs can give up to $5000 per election cycle (primary/general election) to a congressional candidate; whereas, individuals are currently limited to giving federal candidates $2300 per election.
- By aggregating many small individual contributions, USINPAC leaves a greater impact on the political campaigns than most individuals can – and can get involved in more campaigns at a national level.
- A disadvantage of supporting a candidate with personal dollars, as opposed to PAC dollars, is that the candidate may or may not know why the individual is making the contribution or which issues are most important to the individual. When contributions are made via a PAC, these are clearly identified with the interest that the member shares with the organization.
24. I'm just not interested in politics, why should I contribute?
Non-involvement can’t insulate us from the impact of political decisions. Every time the government enacts legislation that affects us, somebody wins and somebody loses. Your contributions can make a difference to the Indian American community’s future. Supporting Indian-Americans running for office is not politics- rather it is creating a path for our best and brightest. There are many issues at the federal and local level that you would not consider political but that impact you as an individual – whether these are issues related to immigration that impact you personally or professionally, or zoning issues for your place of worship as an example. USINPAC has established itself as a strong political organization that represents the interests of the community and has the ability to have a significant impact and affect the outcome.
25. How is USINPAC administered?
An executive committee administers the PAC. In addition to the Chairman, the committee is comprised of other executive members, full-time staff and volunteers. Outside legal counsel to USINPAC serves as an advisor to USINPAC. To see the complete work force behind USINPAC, visit the Our Leadership section.
26. How are funds collected by the USINPAC distributed?
The USINPAC members determine which candidate to support and how much to contribute during each election cycle. USINPAC distributes funds in a bipartisan manner. USINPAC has personal contact and relationships with members of Congress and therefore has an opportunity to represent and communicate the interests of the Indian-American community.
In the past, the USINPAC has supported
- Indian-American candidates
- Reelection of candidates who have been long time friends of Indian-Americans
- Reelection of candidates who are on key committees that impact issues of importance to the Indian-American community
- Challengers to incumbents who have not been supportive of the Indian-American community
- Candidates/Challengers recommended by our members
- Presidential Candidates
27. How will I know what the USINPAC is doing with the PAC collected funds?
USINPAC strives to use 80% of the funds collected for political campaigns. Our sources and use of funds can be checked at the FEC website at www.fec.gov
28. Will the USINPAC Executive Committee accept suggestions from contributors about which candidates to support?
Yes, you may recommend candidates you believe deserve support. Your recommendations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. USINPAC considers all recommendations. Keep in mind that all candidates are evaluated according to specific selection criteria.