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Cattle Q&A with Colin Woodall

Progressive Cattleman Editor David Cooper Published on 23 September 2016

Colin Woodall is vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Originally from Big Spring, Texas, he graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in agricultural systems management.

Colin WoodallHe first went to Washington, D.C., as an aide to Sen. John Cornyn, then joined NCBA in 2004.

He answered a few questions from Progressive Cattleman’s David Cooper on the process involved with NCBA’s Political Action Committee.

Briefly explain when and why the NCBA created its political action committee (PAC).

NCBA established our political action committee (PAC) in 1993 as another tool to engage in the political process here in D.C. Congressional campaigns require a lot of funding, and members of Congress, as well as the candidates challenging them, are required to raise that money.

By contributing to the campaigns of senators and representatives who fight for cattle producers in Washington, we have a better chance of keeping them in Congress. NCBA-PAC also supports challengers to senators and representatives who actively work against America’s cattle producers.

Our goal is to use the PAC as a tool to help elect as many pro-cattle and pro-agriculture candidates to Congress as we can.

If I’m a cattle producer wanting to make a political donation, why go through NCBA-PAC rather than donate to a candidate directly?

We encourage our members to support their local candidates, and many of them do. It is a great opportunity to build a local connection with their representative and senators. However, we still want them to contribute to NCBA-PAC in order to have the resources to support candidates from across the country.

While their local representative may be supportive of the cattle industry, there are also others from different parts of the U.S. we also need to support. By having the strongest PAC we can, it helps us support more candidates.

You also have to keep in mind there are many members of Congress from urban areas which support our industry but may not have any cattle producers locally. Our PAC also goes to support them.

If I’m a member of NCBA, am I already a member of the NCBA-PAC?

No, you have to specifically contribute money to NCBA-PAC in order to be a PAC member. Every dollar we receive in contributions from our members is turned around and sent to a candidate NCBA-PAC supports. Nothing is held back for administrative expenses.

Do I have to be a member of NCBA to donate to the PAC?

We’d love to have our donors also be members of NCBA, but no, you don’t need a connection to one of our affiliated organizations.

What restrictions do campaign finance laws have on me contributing to the PAC?

Individuals can contribute a maximum of $5,000 per election cycle, which consists of two years. However, we have many different contribution levels that will fit the needs of all of our members. If every NCBA member just gave $25, we would exceed our goal.

NCBA-PAC has a goal of raising $1 million per election cycle. Does the PAC use all of that money contributing to candidates?

Yes, every single dollar goes to contributions to candidates running for Congress. No PAC money is used to pay any administrative costs.

How does the NCBA-PAC determine which candidates deserve financial contributions?

First, we visit with our state affiliate about their position and relationship with any candidate or incumbent and work together. If they are an incumbent member of Congress, we look at their voting record on issues important to us, in addition to the congressional committees they sit on.

We base our contributions off of performance, not on their party affiliation. Any group that tries to work with only one party in Washington, D.C., is doomed to fail. We have friends on both sides of the aisle, and we make contributions to Democrats and Republicans alike.

When it comes to challengers, we look at the incumbent they are challenging. If that incumbent has not been supportive of our policy positions, we will support their challenger.

What’s the limit that can be given to an individual candidate from NCBA’s PAC?

NCBA-PAC can give $5,000 to a candidate’s primary race and $5,000 to their general race. The most we can give to any one candidate in a cycle is $10,000.

Doesn’t the possibility of which party controls a chamber of Congress also dictate where contributions are made?

You will find that the contributions of some groups will swing depending upon which party controls Congress, but that is not how we operate. We stick to our principle of only supporting candidates who support us.

Why would it be important to support candidates from both sides of the aisle?

We can’t implement our NCBA policy priorities by working with only one party. We find that we have friends and antagonists among both Democrats and Republicans. In order to be successful in D.C., you have to cultivate friendships with all groups and parties involved. That is why we give to Democrats and Republicans.

Does the NCBA-PAC weigh in or make contributions in the presidential race?

No, the NCBA-PAC is not engaged in the 2016 presidential race. end mark