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Member Spotlight on … Kathleen Gamble

Member Spotlight on … Kathleen Gamble

January 2024

Political Affairs Director, American Trucking Associations

You have had an impressive career as a PAC manager for more than a decade, for three different professional associations, raising and distributing millions of dollars. Was this career something you imagined for yourself?

Not really, though it has definitely been rewarding, personally and professionally. My major in college — at Colorado State University and the University of Missouri at St. Louis — was finance, so I have some background in that world. The rest just sort of developed over time. I worked in the St. Louis office of Sen. Christopher Bond and in late 2004 joined his Washington, D.C., staff.

How did you find work on Capitol Hill?

It is a fun place to work. It’s a young crowd, and there was always friendly rivalry between the various groups, with their different allegiances and alliances, but with an emphasis on “friendly.” There were differences — between Democrats and Republicans, of course, and even between the staffs and delegations of various states — but there was good-natured banter. We’d play against each other in “softball on the Mall.” I hope that sense of friendly rivalry survives, but in this heated political environment, I’m not sure that is still the case.

How has that heated political environment affected the work of PACs?

It’s made it more challenging in some ways because our role is frequently misunderstood. The public seems to have come to believe that PACs are evil. We have a lot of educating to do. Too many people assume we have unlimited amounts of cash and can buy votes. It’s like something out of an old political cartoon, with shady lobbyists standing in the shadows of the Capitol building with dollar bills sticking out of the pockets of their trench coats. It’s not like that at all. People also get super PACs confused with employee-funded PACs, which makes our jobs a little harder. But I’m not complaining. There are encouraging developments, too.

Such as?

PACs now have a seat at the table in ways they did not just a few years ago. There was a time when we were just viewed in terms of the money we could raise and how it was distributed. That was it. But PAC professionals have worked hard to have a voice and for that voice to be heard by the higher-ups in the organization. And now, more and more, we have a strategic role that is respected because we have earned it. We now offer strategic advice on legislation, for example, and on larger political goals.

What advice might you have for communication with eligibles and existing members?

In recent years — and especially after Jan. 6 — PAC professionals have had to continually educate our eligibles and members that we are focused on whether a candidate or incumbent is pro-trucking or not. There is a great deal of interest in how a member stands on some divisive social issue. Now these are important issues, but our focus is on the trucking industry and how a politician stands on issues that are immediately relevant to our industry, not on other issues.

Kathleen will be speaking about fundraising at large events at the National PAC Conference, March 4-7, in Fort Lauderdale. She can be reached at [email protected].

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