Physicians can be involved in the political/legislative process in many ways and on many levels. One of the easiest is to become involved with the campaign of those Seminole County legislators who support the physician community. Involvement can consist of actively campaigning for a legislator (attending fundraisers, posting campaign materials in your office, walking door-to-door for a candidate, helping to mail campaign materials), getting to personally know your legislators (either on your own, or through the efforts of the SCMS Legislative Committee), becoming a “Key Contact”, and/or making political contributions.
Campaign contributions drive politics. Legislators are obsessed with raising funds, because they must get elected and re-elected to be able to make a difference. Political contributions do not buy votes, but they do help assure access to legislators, to make sure your voice gets heard.
There are four key ways to financially help the SCMS and FMA political effort:
Direct Campaign Contributions:
Every legislator needs to raise campaign funds. For physicians, the question is often how much to contribute, and how to allocate potential contributions most effectively.
Both the SCMS and the FMA can give guidance as to what races are the most crucial for fundraising. Candidates will often have several fundraisers. Fundraisers are a great way to meet many legislators (many will attend to show support for the others—be sure and make your attendance known to all of them); as well as show support for the candidate. However, if asked to attend a fundraiser, it is reasonable to ask the SCMS or FMA for guidance first, since many times the funds raised will be credited to those who put the fundraiser together (the best is to wait and attend a fundraiser coordinated by FMA PAC, or a physician).
For those who want to develop a personal relationship with a legislator, it is reasonable to give a campaign check directly to that legislator (or even better, get a few other physicians to also give a check). There are rules limiting the amount of campaign contributions per election ($500 for state elections). A general rule for deciding how much to contribute is:
- $100 is appreciated
- $250 gets noticed
- $500 gets remembered
FMA PAC (Florida Medical Association Political Action Committee) is a non-partisan, political action committee created by the FMA to elect pro-medicine candidates to state and national legislative offices. The membership of FMA PAC includes physicians, physician spouses, medical students and residents, association staff and others who take an active role in the health care community.
FMA PAC solicits voluntary contributions that are used to research, select and support the election of candidates who support medicine’s concerns. FMA PAC provides political education to its members through workshops, publications and other activities regarding campaigns and current legislation. A portion of the FMA PAC contribution is allocated to the American Medical Political Action Committee (AMPAC), which operates at the national level to support pro-medicine candidates for U.S. Senate and Congress.
All physicians should be members of FMA PAC. A FMA PAC membership allows the combining of valuable financial resources, and allows the FMA PAC staff to effectively influence the political process. The cost is only $150 per year for a single membership, or $250 per year for a family membership.
The MD 1000 Club
The Millennium Donors (MD) 1000 Club was created to assist pro-medicine candidates in their quest for elected office. The Club provides additional funding when it is needed in designated close races.
MD 1000 Club members pledge contributions totaling $1,000 during the course of an election cycle (two years). An initial $500 contribution is made to the issue advocacy organization, People for a Better Florida; followed by a $500 contribution on request to a “targeted” pro-medicine candidate late in the election cycle. MD 1000 Club members will receive an over-night letter requesting a specific amount for a designated candidate to be returned to the FMA for delivery to the candidate.
Three additional levels of membership have been added to the MD 1000 Club:
- Silver Members - those who raise or contribute $5,000
- Gold Members - those who raise or contribute $10,000
- Platinum Members - those members or groups who raise or contribute $25,000 or more.
On larger donations the proceeds go to the issue advocacy organization, People for a Better Florida (PBF).
The MD 1000 Club does make a difference. In the 2002 and 2004 elections, the 1000 Club played a significant role in several highly contested House and Senate races in the Florida Legislature, including the election of Ed Homan, MD, Paige Kreegal, MD, and Gayle Harrell (a physician’s spouse) to the Florida House.
For a MD 1000 Club membership application, click here…
People for a Better Florida (PBF)
People for a Better Florida is an issue advocacy organization that directs its efforts related to certain issues, rather than on specific candidates. There is no contribution limits. For more information about PBF, click here…
The FLAMPAC staff:
Physicians in Florida are luck to have one of the best run, and most effective PAC organizations in the country. The key individuals of the FMA PAC staff include:
Tim is responsible for the FMA's political operations, a capacity he has served during the last four election cycles. Tim has more than 15 years of legislative and political experience. Prior to joining the FMA, he worked for the American Medical Association the Medical Society of the State of New York, and he served as legislative director for the Illinois Attorney General. Tim is a graduate of Indiana University with a B.A. in Political Science.
Sarah is responsible for the daily operations of FMA PAC, and with assisting with lobbying and grassroots activities. Sarah joined FMA in 1999 after working for the Florida House of Representatives. She is a graduate of Iowa State University with a B.A. in Political Science.
James is a practicing Radiation Oncologist in Ft. Meyers. He received his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine in 1981, did a residency in Internal Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, and completed a residency in Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. He holds a faculty position in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Miami. James was the President of the American College of Radiation Oncology in 2003, and served as the Treasurer Designate of FMA PAC in 2004.