The FONEPAC and Direct Givers Programs were established by the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association (WSTA) membership in 1986. The FONEPAC and Direct Givers Programs are political action programs established under Wisconsin election laws. A major part of the programs is soliciting financial support from employees of WSTA member companies throughout the state in order to assist the Association to actively participate in the political process.
Member company employees participate in the FONEPAC and Direct Givers Programs on a voluntary basis. A single direct contribution can be made on an annual basis; quarterly direct payments can be made to either of these two accounts, or the most popular option, a payroll check-off system where employees check off an automatic payroll deduction to participate.
The goal of the FONEPAC and Direct Givers Programs is to raise at least $50,000 annually for the purposes of financially participating in Wisconsin elections. FONEPAC contributions are made on the recommendation of a disbursement committee, which reviews campaign activities and recommends campaign contributions. However, final decisions with respect to Direct Givers funds are made by the individual contributor.
The FONEPAC and Direct Givers Program pins have become a recognized symbol of political participation among employees in the telecommunications industry.
The color of the pin indicates the annual level of participation:
Black | $400 and over
Blue | $200-$399
Red | $100-$199
White | $50-$99
The differences between the FONEPAC and Direct Givers Program are as follows:
- The WSTA Political Action Committee (PAC) is a political contribution mechanism where the decisions are made by a 3 person vote: the WSTA Executive Director, the WSTA Board President, and WSTA Legislative Committee Chair. The WSTA PAC is called FONEPAC. Contributions are not tax deductible and must be personal contributions, not corporate. PAC contributions are made to both Republicans and Democrats.
- The WSTA Conduit is a political contribution mechanism where the decisions are made by you, often (but not always) on a recommendation from WSTA. The funds you contribute to the conduit are controlled by you. The WSTA Conduit is called WSTA Direct Givers. Similar to FONEPAC, contributions to Direct Givers are not tax deductible and must be personal contributions, not corporate. Conduit contributions are made to both Republicans and Democrats.
A payroll deduction may be established for either the PAC or conduit, which can spread the contributions out throughout the year. Any individuals who are employees of WSTA Active or Associate member companies and are interested in participating in either the FONEPAC or Direct Givers Programs can contact the Association office at (608) 256-8866 for additional information.