Slopes PAC was launched Tuesday by a political action committee with the goal of supporting candidates and organizations that are focused on economic growth, developing workers, and social and economic mobility.
Sunny Washington, CEO, has worked in Utah's Silicon Slopes tech companies for 20 years. He believes the technology community should have a seat at the table in legislative discussions due to the industry's economic impact as well as the large number of Utahns working in the tech sector.
Washington stated, "I want to ensure that our community is well represented." Washington stated, "I hope the Legislature welcomes this opportunity to work together and hear our voices."
Political action committees (also known as PACs) raise money to influence elections. They must report to the Utah Office of Elections at the Lieutenant Governor's Office who donated and how they spent the money.
PACs can be created to support specific industries, such as mining or agriculture, or to vote for specific candidates. The Federal Election Commission doesn't enforce contribution limits on PACs that don't fund candidates for federal elections.
Washington stated that technology founders and employees are fiscally conservative but socially progressive. However, the PAC will not necessarily be partisan. It will work to change the status quo at the Legislature. But it will also support politics that focuses on the middle ground. Washington called this "the Utah way."
The PAC will seek input from the tech community and will make decisions based on a governing body.
Washington stated, "We don’t want to work alone." Washington stated, "It is important that we hear those voices coming from all angles, from rural Utah and urban Utah. Tech is everywhere."
Within 60 days, the group expects to receive 60 donations from corporations and individuals.
Washington is also the chair of Silicon Slopes Commons' public policy committee. He said that while lobbying groups have been ignored by legislators in the past for Utah's tech sector, the financial component will give them more power.
Washington stated that Washington spoke out in a few cases and received pushback. "I heard a legislator say, kind of behind-the scenes, that tech companies should keep in their lane or "Don't get involved in issues that affect tech."
Washington pointed out that the influence of money in politics is not new. She stated that the laissez-fair system in Utah for campaign finance "persuades" her but that she is determined to make positive changes.
Washington stated, "I want the energy to make a difference and to not try to change a system that is already in place." Washington stated, "We will follow the established rules rather than trying to change them."
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