Mad as Heck With Washington Politics?

SEMA News—August 2013

LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Compiled by SEMA News Staff

Mad as Heck With Washington Politics?

SEMA PAC Allows You to Do Something About It

 

Newly appointed SEMA PAC Manager Christian Robinson (left) with John Hotchkis of Hotchkis Performance.
Newly appointed SEMA PAC Manager Christian Robinson (left) with John Hotchkis of Hotchkis Performance. 

   

For a decade, SEMA’s Political Action Committee (SEMA PAC) has been fighting for SEMA members and their businesses in the nation’s capital. Recently, SEMA decided to create a new position in the association devoted exclusively to growing the PAC’s influence. Experienced campaign veteran Christian Robinson was chosen to lead the PAC in the years ahead. SEMA News had a chance to catch up with the new SEMA PAC manager. We wanted to know who he is, how SEMA PAC works and why members should take notice.

SEMA News: Please tell us about yourself.

Christian Robinson: For starters, I was born and raised in South Carolina. As kids, my friends and I would spend Friday nights getting into trouble at Oglethorpe Speedway Park just over the state line in Pooler, Georgia. I ended up going to college at the University of Miami, where I started my career in politics. After helping Florida Senator Bill Nelson (his collector vehicle was the Space Shuttle!) get re-elected twice, I was ready for a new adventure.

SN: What made you want to join the SEMA team?

CR: This may sound corny, but family. Whether it was my grandfather teaching me to change the oil in his ’78 turbodiesel Mercedes-Benz or taking rides in my dad’s ’64.5 cascade-green Ford Mustang, some of my fondest memories involve cars. As the son of small-business owners, I have a great respect for how hard SEMA members work. So as soon as the government affairs team approached me about the job, I knew SEMA was where I wanted to be.

SN: You have a background in campaigns. Why should SEMA members pay attention to politics?

CR: People are fed up with Washington’s antics. Frankly, I am, too. But the reason to pay attention is pretty simple: It’s the business-savvy thing to do. Whether it’s banning the sale of E-15, tax reform or job creation, there’s a lot going on in Washington, D.C., that will affect SEMA members’ businesses. SEMA is making tremendous inroads on these issues and others as we claim our seat at the table. We simply can’t afford to sit idly by while others determine the future of our industry.

Newly appointed SEMA PAC Manager Christian Robinson (left) with John Hotchkis of Hotchkis Performance.SN: How does SEMA PAC fit into the equation?

CR: One of the things I hear over and over again is that one person can’t fix the dysfunction alone. I understand that the decisions made in Washington, D.C., may seem like they are out of your control, but they really aren’t. At its very core, SEMA PAC is about our members coming together to speak in a collective voice. The more people who join, the louder our voice and the greater our ability to impact change.

SN: How does SEMA PAC work?

CR: Whether it’s the laws or the people who make them, things in our nation’s capital are always changing. SEMA PAC helps us keep pace by supporting the candidates and lawmakers who understand the importance of what SEMA
members do.

SN: Who joins SEMA PAC?

CR: Any SEMA member can join. It doesn’t matter if you have five employees or 500, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get involved and stay active.

SN: How does a SEMA member join SEMA PAC?

CR: SEMA PAC has to obtain permission from each member company before we can ask for contributions. I know that sounds complicated, but it’s not. The form takes seconds to fill out. You are then “PAC Approved.” With a greater number of business owners willing to stand up to government intervention in their businesses, more and more members are becoming “PAC Approved.” I urge everyone to head to www.SEMApac.com and join!

SN: Does becoming “PAC Approved” mean somebody has to contribute?

CR: Never. It simply allows us to keep you in the loop on how we’re fighting for you in Washington, D.C.

Newly appointed SEMA PAC Manager Christian Robinson (left) with John Hotchkis of Hotchkis Performance.SN: Why should somebody support SEMA PAC?

CR: My mother always told me that it’s rude to answer a question with another question, but why wouldn’t somebody want to support SEMA PAC? It helps SEMA members educate lawmakers who help them grow their businesses. So really, it’s not just a personal contribution, but an investment in your company. And it’s one of the easiest investments you can make.

SN: How can SEMA PAC help a member’s business?

CR: Through SEMA PAC, members have the opportunity to build relationships with not only their own elected representatives but also a number of other powerful lawmakers. Whenever you have a problem or want to make your opinion heard, you’ve got fellow car guys and gals in Washington that have your back.

SN: What is the “$10 for 10” program?

CR: This year is the 10th anniversary of SEMA PAC. Traditionally, a 10-year anniversary is marked by tin, so we are asking everyone to fill our tin cup with $10 contributions (or higher!). Anyone who helps out will get a limited-edition anniversary lapel pin as a thank you. I look forward to wearing mine at the SEMA Show and at member gatherings throughout the year.

SN: Is there a minimum contribution to support SEMA PAC?

CR: No. All I ask is that everyone chips in whatever they can afford. SEMA PAC is about strength in numbers, and that’s why I need your help. The more people who help, the stronger we are.

SN: How do SEMA members learn more?

CR: Don’t be a stranger. Visit the SEMA PAC website at www.SEMApac.com or feel free to contact me at 202-783-6007 or via e-mail at christianr@sema.org.


 

Michael Kunzman of Michael A. Kunzman & Associates received an award for 2010 SEMA Rep Agency of the Year. Kunzman with his ’56 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible.
Michael Kunzman of Michael A. Kunzman & Associates received an award for 2010 SEMA Rep Agency of the Year. Kunzman with his ’56 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible.

   

President’s Club Spotlight: Michael Kunzman

Michael Kunzman is the president and founder of Michael A. Kunzman and Associates, headquartered in Commerce Township, Michigan. Kunzman is an eight-year member of the SEMA PAC President’s Club, and his company was honored with the SEMA Rep Agency of the Year Award for 2010.

“SEMA PAC impacts legislation that could adversely affect the rights of both enthusiasts and the manufacturers of performance products,” Kunzman said.

 “Often, well-intentioned legislative proposals have unintended consequences that inhibit otherwise lawful and safe motoring. This is why I find it so worthwhile to support the efforts of SEMA PAC.”

For more information on SEMA PAC, please contact SEMA PAC Manager Christian Robinson by phone at 202-783-6007 x20, or by e-mail at christianr@sema.org.

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