CapitolBeat Primary is Over

July 01, 2010
Now it's time to got to work.

By Bruce C. Allen and Jeannie Tindel
In this increasingly impersonal world, personal contacts and relationships are becoming more important in all aspects of our lives. This being an election year, now is the time to make contact with potential legislators. And now that the primary is over and we know who the final candidates are, it’s time to establish a working relationship with future legislators.

It’s important that we get to know the decision makers better so when we need to communicate with legislators on issues impacting the profession, they will know the CPAs doing the communicating.

People tend to listen and respect those they know more so than strangers. As former Speaker of the House Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill Jr. once said, quoting his father, “All politics is local.”

Collectively, we need to make sure that CalCPA—through its local chapter members throughout the state—knows every legislator and legislators know CalCPA and the local CPAs that live in their districts. Every legislator can name several attorneys they trust in their district, but most cannot name a CPA upon whom they rely for advice. Why is that?

Last year, chapter leaders met with nearly every member of the California Legislature to explain the profession’s legislative initiatives: increasing entry level educational requirements, license status disclosure, taxpayer privilege, mandatory peer review and mobility. By all reports it was an enjoyable experience for the CPA participants, and provided valuable insights to legislators—which translated into support for those initiatives. We were successful because of the grass-roots involvement of our members. But it wasn’t easy. We learned that most legislators had only a vague awareness of what CPAs do or how they are educated, tested and trained.

The combination of California’s swelling population, term limits, redistricting and a proliferation of career politicians has led to a lengthening of the distance between the CPA profession and decision makers that tend to have lots of political experience, but little exposure, to the CPA profession—unless they happen to be CPAs.

We need to increase the visibility of the profession in the community and become more politically active. It’s not enough to vote and make a few campaign contributions; it’s time to become ambassadors for the profession.

To that end, every CalCPA chapter has a grass-roots chair, who is charged with identifying existing and new relationships with candidates and local elected officials. It’s the perfect time since candidates are looking for allies in their effort to get elected.

If you already know a candidate or a legislator, let us know via e-mail. We’ll make sure that you’re contacted to help establish a legislator team for your contact.

It’s all about relationships.

Financial literacy training is one of the important initiatives CalCPA is offering voters. These Dollars and Sense events are staffed by CalCPA-trained CPAs to provide financial information to students, seniors and families at every stage of their lives and careers. Understanding financial issues and the role CPAs play in the economy is essential to ensuring the long-term viability of our economy and our profession.
  • CPAs have much to offer their community, and the profession’s history of pro bono services is unparalleled. Many community groups have at least one CPA volunteering time and expertise to the group. Now it’s time for CPAs to contribute to themselves—and the profession. These critical contributions can be made easily in a number of ways:
  • CPAs can invite local candidates and legislators to their offices for lunch and
  • a tour.
  • Chapters can host candidate/legislator nights.
  • CPAs who have contributed to CPA-PAC can attend local fund-raising events to meet the candidates.
  • CPAs can volunteer to work for a campaign, stop by a legislator’s district office, attend an open house or other community event where the legislator or staff is speaking.
It’s good business to know those charged with regulating the profession. Members interested in helping should contact CalCPA via e-mail or (916) 441-5351.

Contribute to CPA-PAC!
The issues that are important to you and the CPA profession are important to CalCPA. However, achieving our collective goals starts with engaging in the political process—and that’s where CPA-PAC comes in.

Our success depends heavily on a Legislature that understands the importance of CPAs and our profession. CPA-PAC works hard—on a bipartisan basis—to support candidates who understand the essential services we provide.

CPA-PAC can channel your voice with those of your peers and deliver the political clout to ensure your message is heard.

The stronger CPA-PAC becomes—through increased membership and contributions—the greater our chances for effecting positive, pro-CPA change in California’s political climate. This is particularly important this election year.

Find more information online.

Bruce C. Allen is CalCPA’s director of government relations. Jeannie Tindel is CalCPA’s director of legislation.
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