Changes Can Give NTRA More Political Punch

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has reorganized its political and fund-raising initiatives into two operations: the NTRA Legislative Action Campaign and the NTRA Political Action Committee.

Under the NTRA Legislative Action Campaign, buyers, sellers, consignors, and sale companies will continue to voluntarily contribute 0.025% of horses sold at public auction. In 2002, the program raised more than $2 million.

Because of federal changes, those funds can't be used for national political party contributions. They will be used for educational seminars and events relating to the Congressional Horse Caucus, state political contributions, American Horse Council support, and lobbyists in Washington, D.C. In addition, the NTRA plans a study on "the extent of problem gaming in racing and ways to mitigate its effects," and a survey of the "economic impact that the racing and breeding industries have on federal and state economies."

To continue national political contributions, the NTRA hopes to increase the size of the NTRA PAC. The 2003 fund-raising goal is $250,000.

"Hard money," as it is called, can be contributed to the PAC directly or to candidates or political parties at the federal level or in states that prohibit use of "soft money," or corporate contributions. (The funds can be raised from individuals, with a limit of $5,000 per person.)

NTRA commissioner Tim Smith, in a recent interview, said legislative initiatives remain a top-five priority for the NTRA, which recently held a two-day retreat to plan for its future. Smith said the goals remain the same but the structure needed to be changed to allow the NTRA to operate like other industries in the legislative arena.