Lobbying and Political Activity
We actively participate in the political process to advance our long-term business interests and the interests of our customers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders. We also lobby and work for what we believe is in the best interests of our customers, shareholders, communities and the nation. We maintain five political action committees (PACs) that are run by our employees – one for federal candidates and separate state PACs in Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Virginia. Approximately 30 percent of the employees eligible to participate in one of our PACs do so. AEP’s federal PAC, the AEP Committee for Responsible Government, contributed more than $509,375 to candidates for public office in 2013. Federal and state laws allow AEP to pay expenses of operating its PACs. We also have a process whereby political contributions are reviewed annually by AEP’s board of directors.
In 2013, we spent about $7.5 million on internal and external lobbying activities at the state and federal level. This includes dues to trade or national associations for which a portion goes toward lobbying. We maintain an office in Washington, D.C., to address issues involving federal legislation and regulation. Each of our operating companies has lobbyists who work in their respective state capitals.
We belong to or participate in several state, local and national organizations, including the Edison Electric Institute, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). We do so for a variety of reasons, including staying current on issues, learning best business practices from our peers, and strengthening our relationships with our customers, many of whom are also members. We disclose our political contributions, as well as the portion of membership dues to various organizations that is used for lobbying purposes, on an annual basis. We also post our corporate political contributions policy online. For more information, see our lobbying policy and our disclosure for 2013.
We believe, as a general rule, that it is more beneficial to AEP to remain involved in these organizations, even if we occasionally disagree, than to withdraw. We believe we can be far more effective in shaping the policies of the organizations from within rather than sitting on the sidelines.
From time to time, many, if not most, of the organizations to which we belong reach conclusions or take positions on issues with which we disagree. If we feel strongly enough, we voice our disagreement and work to change the organization’s position. Sometimes our views prevail, sometimes they do not. Many times we are able to reach some sort of compromise.
We are firm believers in transparency and active participation in public debate. That conviction is based on our deeply held belief in collaboration, which we practice both internally and externally. Our experience is that open, candid discussion and a good-faith attempt to reach common ground is the best way to do business.