The Snake River Sugar Co. Political Action Committee could potentially triple its reach if the Federal Election Commission issues a favorable advisory opinion sought by the PAC.
Snake River Sugar PAC is currently prohibited from soliciting and receiving contributions from members of its seven sugar beet grower associations who are incorporated. If the FEC agrees the grower groups are a trade association, the PAC will be allowed to solicit stockholders, and executive and administrative personnel of incorporated growers.
Currently, the PAC may receive contributions only from individuals who are not incorporated. That subset of the cooperative represents an estimated 25 percent of the 805 growers in the seven associations, says John McCreedy, the PAC treasurer and vice president of the Snake River Sugar Co.
I cant tell you what this would do to our numbers, but I would expect to see contributions increase, McCreedy says.
Snake River Sugar PAC was founded in 1998 and has grown to be Idahos No. 3 PAC, trailing the J.R. Simplot PAC and Micron PAC. The PAC favors incumbents and leans Republican, but in the 2004, 2008 and 2010 campaign cycles gave more to Democratic members of Congress. In the 2010 cycle, the PAC spent $63,500 on federal candidates. (Simplots 2010 spending was $153,700, Microns $67,628.)
Snake River includes farmers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The seven grower associations are Nyssa-Nampa, Elwyhee, Upper Snake River Valley, Minidoka County, Cassia County, Twin Falls County and Northside.
The FEC made the request public this month. It was supported by a 141-page filing available on the FECs website. The advisory opinion is due Aug. 24.
The companys request cites the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, which the FEC determined was a trade association in 2005. That allowed members of the co-op to contribute to the American Crystal Sugar PAC, which represents sugarbeet growers in the Midwest. The ruling made a substantial difference for American Crystal Sugar PAC, which had typically spent between $300,000 and $600,000 on federal races through the mid-2000s, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. By 2006, the PACs spending rose to $1.1 million. In 2008, the PAC spent $1.9 million; in 2010, $2.1 million.
The Idaho-Oregon-Washington grower group is not as large as Red River Valley, but McCreedy says Snake River Sugar PAC hopes to contribute more to candidates favorable to the industry. Sugar growers have been under siege from the food, candy and soft drink industry in alliance with budget hawks, who seek to lift tariffs on foreign sugar. The growers won a key victory earlier this month in a House committee.
This will expand our ability to raise funds, McCreedy says. Well continue to support candidates who support American agriculture.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438