WASHINGTON, D.C., April 2 - Speaking before a joint gathering of young agents and state InsurPac chairmen at the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America's (IIABA) National Legislative Conference today, National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) told young agents that the future of their business depends upon their political involvement.
“My point to the young agents, as well to those who are my age, is that you have got to stay involved because your business on Main Street in your town depends upon it,” said Reynolds, a former licensed insurance broker and IIABA member who is now one of the fastest-rising stars in the House Republican leadership.
“Believe me, from now until the day you retire in this business you will be regulated. ... We need to make sure we have common-sense lawmakers at the state house. We need to make sure we have common-sense lawmakers here at the national level. It will be decided by common-sense political action committees like the Big ‘I’.”
In just his third term in the House of Representatives, Reynolds was elected by his peers as chairman of the NRCC, which supports the election of Republicans to the House through direct financial contributions to candidates and Republican Party organizations; technical and research assistance to Republican candidates and Party organizations; voter registration, education and turnout programs; and other Party-building activities. Reynolds is one of only eight elected House GOP leaders.
Reynolds explained to young agents that there are three ways to get involved politically: run for office yourself, vote for the candidates you want to see in office, and be involved financially through political action committees (PACs). He commended the young agents’ support of InsurPac—IIABA’s PAC and the largest property-casualty insurance industry PAC in the country. By pooling the voluntary and individual financial contributions of thousands of independent agents and brokers, InsurPac helps elect candidates and re-elect members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate who share IIABA’s business philosophy.
“No longer does it take a couple hundred thousand dollars to win a race,” said Reynolds. He also noted that passage of campaign finance reform legislation last year “has changed the whole dimension of Washington. No longer can the national parties—Democratic or Republican—or the senatorial committees or the House committees take soft money. Can’t deal with it. It is a felony.”
That raises the importance of PACs, Reynolds explained.
“A million dollars is a threshold today for being an impact player,” Reynolds said. “You have always been an impact player. You have always been an impact player in the states and you have always been an impact player here (in Washington). But you have got to do more.
“You can take an active role in helping make a reality of someone winning by raising enough money to get their message out. I want to urge you do to more of that.”
Reynolds also urged young agents to continue the Big “I” tradition of advocacy on Capitol Hill.
“Every single congressman has some relationship with Big ‘I’ agents because you make it that way. Not only are you raising the dough to help them when they need it, but you are there to talk about the issues,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds spoke at the eighth annual Young Agents-State InsurPac Chairmen Luncheon during the first day of IIABA’s National Legislative Conference. The 27th annual IIABA legislative meeting—the insurance industry’s largest and most effective legislative gathering—takes place April 2-4 at The Capital Hilton in downtown Washington, D.C. The conference brings hundreds of independent insurance agents and brokers to the nation’s capital during the critical early months of the much-anticipated 108th Congress.
Before coming to Congress in 1999, Reynolds held a number of elected posts in western New York as well as in the state Assembly. He began his political career in 1974 as a member of the Concord, N.Y. town board, serving in that post until 1982. Reynolds was a member of the Erie County Legislature from 1982 to 1988, and was elected Republican Leader by his colleagues. In 1988, he was elected to the Assembly and rose to the post of Assembly Republican Leader in 1995.
Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.