Around 1,300 practicing psychologists responded generously to a plea from the APA Practice Organization to get involved in the political process by writing checks to psychology’s only political action committee.
Stephen M. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., executive director for the Association for the Advancement of Psychology (AAP), said the mailing sent out by the Practice Organization earlier this year raised $90,000 for an average contribution of $70 to Psychologists for Legislative Action Now (PLAN).
Five hundred of those contributing were psychologists who had never made a contribution to PLAN, Pfeiffer said. He said the response was about 20 percent better than had been expected.
He said PLAN makes between $180,000 and $200,000 in campaign contributions in every two-year cycle.
The letter sent to those who pay the special assessment to the Practice Organization marked the first time psychologists not already belonging to AAP were solicited for contributions to PLAN.
In a letter from Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., executive director of the Practice Organization, special assessment payers were urged to give as little as 15 cents a day to PLAN, or $54.75 a year.
The direct solicitation was made possible by an affiliation agreement between the Practice Organization and AAP in 2003. In 2001, the APA changed the tax status of the Practice Organization to allow it to spend an unlimited amount of money on political action.
In his letter to special assessment payers, Newman noted that “psychologists currently rank near the bottom in political giving by health care professionals. Social workers give more than we do. Physical therapists give more than we do. Midwives give more than we do.”
Pfeiffer said he was satisfied with the initial response and that no decision has been made yet on whether to make the appeal for PAC contributions an annual event. “It’s a good start,” he said.
He said an important part of the program is the ability to speak to more psychologists about the importance of political giving.
“It’s the third leg of the stool we need to become more effective advocates for psychology,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s not enough to lobby and educate legislators on psychology issues. It’s still important that we can make financial contributions.”
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