The Key Person program
Grassroots political action is a vital element of TXCPA’s governmental affairs efforts. Although the activities of the profession’s lobbyists are important, there is no substitute for the powerful influence of constituent communications on the way a legislator ultimately votes on legislation.
Individual CPAs are constituents who vote and pay taxes in legislators' districts. They have unique expertise and represent other professional colleagues and clients in the district. Finally, no one can explain the impact of accounting and tax issues on the profession and their clients better than individual CPAs.
The State Level
TXCPA sponsors a Key Person Program to involve CPAs in grassroots action in Texas. Administered by the Chapter Legislative Coordinators Committee, Key Persons are responsible for advocating the profession’s viewpoint on issues to their members of the Texas Legislature.
The focus of this program is to train member CPAs to develop and promote a personal constituent relationship with his or her legislator and thereby enhance his or her role as a Key Person. By cultivating relationships with the legislator and his or her staff, a Key Person is able to provide them with important information on tax and accounting related issues, as well as act as a spokesperson for the profession. At the same time, Key Persons also are in a unique position to gather information in their districts that can help TXCPA plan their future dealings with the legislature. Through these relationships, Key Persons help the profession achieve its legislative objectives.
TXCPA Key Persons are charged with the following responsibilities:
- To represent the profession to individual state legislators;
- To develop a personal, constituent relationship with the legislator based on mutual trust and respect;
- To respond immediately to Action Alerts from TXCPA to contact the legislator on specific issues;
- To reinforce the constituent relationship with the legislator by regularly communicating about professional and nonprofessional issues that may be of interest to him or her and the staff;
- To be aware of pending legislation that affects the profession and to be prepared to discuss the impact on your practice, your clients, and the local community;
- To attend political fundraising events for TXCPA and CPA-PAC when requested;
- To attend TXCPA’s legislative receptions when requested;
- To help build community understanding and support for the profession and its position on the issues; and
- To share information and feedback with TXCPA that is useful in developing legislative strategy and achieving our goals.
The Federal Level
The AICPA established the Federal Key Person Program to maintain regular and continuing personal contact with every member of the U.S. Congress. The program accomplishes this through the development and maintenance of a cadre of politically sophisticated and knowledgeable members across the country with the ability to influence members of Congress, in minimal time, when action is needed on a legislative issue affecting the profession.
The AICPA Federal Key Person Program is a vitally important supplement to the efforts of the AICPA professional staff in Washington, D.C. because it:
- Reinforces for the members of Congress that the views expressed by AICPA legislative staff are representative of the views of the Congressman’s constituents in the district;
- Heightens the Congressman’s accountability to his constituents and provides a double avenue to influence public policy decisions; and
- Localizes in the members of Congress’ conscience, the political impact of federal legislation.
Key persons should be well versed in all legislative and political issues affecting the profession. In a sense, each key person is a lobbyist who must be able to communicate the AICPA’s positions to Members of Congress clearly and understandably.
Responsibilities of the Key Person Include:
- Maintaining personal contact with their assigned member of Congress.
- Staying current on legislative issues affecting the profession by reading regular publications from the AICPA.
- Taking immediate action to contact their member of Congress when the AICPA issues a "Legislative Action Alert" concerning a particular legislative issue.
- Promptly summarizing and reporting to their coordinator and the AICPA the nature and results of each contact, including potential legislative opportunities and problems.
- Attending political fund-raising events for the AICPA Effective Legislation Committee when requested.
- Attending the AICPA Congressional Luncheon Program when requested.
Texas Members of Congress In Need of a Key Person:
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-16) El Paso
Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D-7) Houston
Rep. Chip Roy (R-21) San Antonio
Rep. Ron Wright (R-6) Dallas-Fort Worth
Early detection of troubling legislation is the first line of defense in TXCPA’s state advocacy efforts.
From mid-November through late March, TXCPA staff vets all bills filed in the Texas Legislature for CPA relevance. TXCPA’s volunteer reviewers are then assigned bills based on topics they’ve chosen; assigned bills are analyzed and comments submitted online.
Email the staff liaison to learn more.