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Front Page » Top Stories » Miami Chamber Dips Toe Into Politics

Miami Chamber Dips Toe Into Politics

Written by on June 7, 2012

By Scott Blake
Seeking to increase its political influence, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is considering forming a political action committee or similar organization to raise money, make campaign contributions, and endorse candidates and issues.

A PAC or similar body would be a chamber affiliate but officially not part of it, so as not to jeopardize the chamber’s nonprofit tax status.

Still, the move would break with the chamber’s past, when making contributions and political endorsements as a group were considered off limits.

The chamber’s Governmental Affairs Group discussed the idea Friday during a two-day goals conference, the chamber’s annual setting of its agenda for the year ahead.

Chamber member Robert Levy of Robert M. Levy & Associates, a public and government affairs firm, advised the group that gaining political clout is now more about money than ever, pointing to the emergence in recent years of so-called "super PACs."

"They’re buying influence and getting people elected who think like they do," Mr. Levy said. "They’d like to own the government. And make no mistake, it’s for sale."

Chamber member Ric Katz, president of Communikatz, a public affairs specialist who advised the group, described the option of creating a PAC as "the chamber is looking into having some money to toss at candidates."

He said the chamber has the option of creating several types of political committees, with some having more functions than others.

Through a PAC, Mr. Katz added, the chamber essentially would be saying to candidates: "We like you. We like what you stand for. We want you to carry our weight in Washington, and you are in a position to vote on a matter and we are not."To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.