The BIPAC Story
The Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) was founded on August 5,1963 as “an independent, bipartisan group to serve as a political action arm for American business and industry” and to encourage greater business participation in congressional elections. It was the first business political action committee. In 1964, it opened its headquarters in New York City with its first chairman, Kenton R. Cravens of the Mercantile Trust Company, St. Louis Missouri. Robert L. Humphrey, who was instrumental in putting the BIPAC concept together while at the National Association of Manufacturers, was chosen to lead BIPAC as its first president in 1964. The first candidate to receive a BIPAC check was Mark Andrews (R-ND), a candidate for the House of Representatives who was elected and went on to serve in the U.S. Senate.
In the 1970’s, BIPAC gained plenty of company after the official authorization of corporate PACs by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in its Sun Oil Company decision of 1975. BIPAC had earlier moved its offices from New York City to Washington, D.C. to be at the seat of political power. Bernadette Budde, now one of the most respected political analysts in American politics, began her long career at BIPAC in 1970.
As the popularity of corporate PACs grew, BIPAC expanded its services to help broaden the base of politically effective American businesses. In the 1980’s, a monthly report on politics and political races, known today as 'Election Insights', and a now-popular series of Washington Briefings became available to BIPAC supporters. Formal briefings across the country expanded the organization’s visibility.
The 1990’s were a time of tremendous growth for BIPAC. Revitalized and financially strengthened, the organization assumed its role as full partner with its corporate and association supporters in moving the public policy agenda. With business leaders like Owsley Frazier of Brown-Forman, Earle Williams of BDM, Don Meiners of Entergy and Stephen Frank of Southern California Edison at its helm, BIPAC elevated its scope and quality of service. It stepped into the technology era with the launch of its website and its unprecedented, race-by-race candidate database.
2000 - Present
Competitive elections, the rise of independents, and the rapid change within legislatures convinced BIPAC that victories on issues required new strategies and tactics. Project 2000 (now known as the Prosperity Project®) was born of discussions among major corporations and trade associations. It represented an unprecedented effort to unify the business community around common policy goals and serve as its political operations team.
The Prosperity Project provides a focus for the development of an integrated national issue advocacy strategy for American business. Several years before campaign finance reform became reality, BIPAC began to lead the business community out of the era of huge “soft money” donations and into a new way of doing political business – working at the grass roots to marshal the vast army of American workers in support of the people and policies that advance their jobs, their investments, and their industries. By election 2008, half of the Fortune 50 were engaged in the Prosperity Project.