One of America’s leading Black conservative political action committees has instituted a national effort to help Black-owned businesses earn some of the billions of dollars spent during America’s political campaigns as the 2020 election year hits the home stretch.
BlakPAC, a federally-registered ‘Super PAC’ (political action committee), is spearheading an initiative urging all candidates, political parties, political action committees, and donors to take ‘The Art Fletcher Pledge’ to commit to spending 10% of their funding, revenues, or both with Black-owned and businesses and financial institutions.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics website at opensecrets.com, which tracks campaign funding and expenditures, the 2020 presidential candidates have raised more than $2.8 billion thus far, all to be spent prior to Election Day, November 3.
That amount does not include campaign fundraising or expenditures for congressional, state, or local elections, or campaign dollars raised by fundraising committees or political parties.
“The purpose of the pledge is simple,” said BlakPAC Chairman George Farrell.
“Any candidate, Democrat, Republican or independent, that cannot execute the ability to spend 10% of campaign funds with Black businesses cannot be trusted to operate honestly as an elected government official and should not earn our votes.”
Farrell, a Washington, D.C. native who attended Howard University, is a real estate developer and entrepreneur. He and his wife Sandra Lopez co-founded BlakPAC with former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.
Carroll was the highest-ranking Black female elected official in the state’s history. She served as the second in command to former Florida Gov. Rick Scott from 2011-13.
The pledge is named after Arthur Fletcher, a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor in the Nixon administration. Fletcher, a Black Republican and lifelong civil rights activist referred to himself as “the father of affirmative action enforcement” for his work with the 1969 ‘Philadelphia Plan.’
The plan required federal government contractors in Philadelphia’s construction trades to set goals and timetables for hiring minority workers. It gave the businesses autonomy on how to increase minority employment. However, if the goals were not reached, the contracts could be terminated by the federal government.
“The name of the game is to put some economic flesh and bones on Dr. (Martin Luther) King’s dream,” Fletcher is quoted as saying.
Fletcher went on to work with successive Republican presidents, including Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Later in his career, he also served as chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and as the head of the United Negro College fund.
He died in 2005.
“The Art Fletcher Pledge should be a demand,” said Carl Marbury, a Pittsburgh, Penn.-based entrepreneur. “Extending the ideas of Art Fletcher to campaign spending should be a demand that every organization that supports the economic empowerment of minority-owned businesses should be making of candidates looking for the votes of their members.”
“In response to rioting, burning and looting, many American businesses and organizations are investing in voices that are loud and often irresponsible. BlakPAC is opening the way for investment in softer but experienced and responsible voices which present plans and projects which actually solve problems and benefit Americans,” said former Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory, a Black Republican. He has signed on as a pledge supporter.
“People often forget those who commit to a cause and act as a catalyst for historic change,” said Robert Whittemore, another pledge supporter.
“Art Fletcher, a Republican civil rights leader, championed affirmative action to assure minority workers’ civil rights were protected and represented to assure access to opportunity and economic equality through employment.
“Today, BlakPAC calls upon candidates and campaigns to make a pledge for affirmative political action, assuring minority activists and minority-owned businesses receive the funding needed to get the right candidates elected.”
According to its website, <www.blakpac.gop>, “BlakPAC contributes to conservative candidates who share our values and serve as positive role models. They are our best advocates for conservative ideas to be showcased in the community.” The organization has been in operation since January 2015.
BlakPAC also provides candidate training, exit polling, voter research, and social media campaign services, and has set up paid internships for Black youth who are interested in working on political campaigns.
“Meeting the Art Fletcher Pledge is easy if the commitment is there for affirmative political action,” Farrell said. “There are some 200 Black-owned newspapers in the United States covering every possible market with a very loyal readership. Many of these papers are weeklies and therefore have a long shelf life compared to daily newspapers.
“There are more than 100 Black-owned radio stations. There are even Black-owned television stations and Byron Allen’s Weather Channel,” he said.
“National and statewide candidates should be serious about reaching swing voters (otherwise known as Black voters) who provide the margin of victory in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.”
The 2018 Florida governor’s race was decided by 44,000 votes. According to Farrell, Republican Ron DeSantis owes his victory in the Florida gubernatorial election to about 100,000 African American women who unexpectedly chose him over Democrat candidate Andrew Gillum because of a school choice-oriented get out the vote effort by BlakPac.
New Journey PAC President Autry Pruitt and Vernon Robinson of Black Americans for the President’s Agenda PAC are both Art Fletcher Pledge signers and have spent more than $1 million on advertising targeting Black voters and on Black-owned radio stations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.
Black Republican congressional candidates Carla Spalding of Florida and Casper Stockman from Colorado have signed and have agreed to meet the commitment.
For more information on the Art Fletcher Pledge and to see the latest list of Pledge signers, go to <www.blakpac.gop>.