SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Electronic Transactions Association is forming a political action committee to lobby for the interests of the acquiring industry.

News of the ETA PAC came Wednesday in a presentation by Jason Oxman, the trade group’s CEO, at the association’s annual Strategic Leadership Forum.

Oxman called his audience’s attention to a PAC lapel pin he was wearing and said it was the second most expensive piece of jewelry he had ever purchased.

The most costly, his wife’s engagement ring, had a higher price tag than the donation he made to the PAC, he said.

Kim Fitzsimmons, ETA president, later told the conferees that she intended to become the PAC’s second member.

The PAC will seek contributions from members of the trade group to fund its activities.

“Advocacy is a business expense that executives are wise to make,” Oxman said.

Much of the funding will find its way into the coffers of members of the House and Senate who support acquiring-industry causes, he noted.

The PAC will remain nonpartisan, making campaign contributions to Republicans and Democrats who promote the industry’s interests, Oxman said.

The association urged forum attendees to fill out forms that grant the trade group permission to solicit them for PAC contributions.

As part of the association’s stepped-up approach to politics in recent months, the group has its first registered lobbyist and has hired additional staff members with experience on Capitol Hill.

The ETA political team’s “tireless activity is phenomenal,” Fitzsimmons said, noting that it has already lobbied for a one-year delay of a requirement that acquirers match Tax Identification Numbers to report merchants’ transactions to the Internal Revenue Service.

In its next lobbying effort, the ETA is urging Congress to pass a national breach notification law that would supersede the myriad state laws and regulations requiring merchants to report data theft, Oxman said. The campaign will begin with letters to members of Congress.

The letters constitute a good start, a conference speaker, former Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., told attendees.

“You’d better follow it up somehow,” he warned.

Stupak, now a lobbyist with Venable LLP, advised association members to attend town hall meetings to voice concerns to lawmakers.

The PAC should make its positions known to legislators before they start writing legislation, he said, maintaining that once the process begins, it’s too late to wield much influence.

Quoting Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., Stupak said the ETA PAC should take a place at the table or risk being eaten for dinner.

The ETA should also be honest with members of Congress about how proposed legislation “might hurt the member back home,” he said.  

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