If you talk to John Palatiello for any length of time, you’ll soon discover he knows his way around Washington. As the executive director of MAPPS and president of the Washington, D.C.-based public affairs consulting firm John M. Pallatiello Associates (JMPA), Palatiello makes it his business to understand the inner workings of the American political system. “When John walks on the Hill, members of Congress know the issues that are important to us,” said Pat Olson, CP, PE, PLS, president and CEO of AeroMetric and chair of the MAPPS Political Action Committee (PAC). “John brings the issues forward and he frames them well.”

Palatiello has long been an advocate of issues affecting surveying and mapping firms. Several years ago, the MAPPS board of directors recognized the need to bolster his efforts by supporting candidates for federal office who understand the value of the private geospatial community, support the private sector and are willing to take a stand to help private firms compete and flourish. By law, none of the association’s funds from dues or conference fees could be used for political campaign purposes. Board members established the MAPPS PAC as a separate fund, filed with the Federal Election Commission, to provide MAPPS members with a legal and ethical way to participate in the political process. The MAPPS PAC is funded exclusively through voluntary personal contributions from individual MAPPS member firm principals and executives; corporate contributions are prohibited.

PalatielloFor each election cycle, the committee sets a fundraising goal. Through a comprehensive process of candidate evaluation based on staff evaluation and input from members, the MAPPS PAC identifies a list of candidates to support. Considerations include candidates’ records on geospatial and general business issues, committee assignments, leadership positions and the status of their election campaigns. According to Federal election law, the MAPPS PAC may contribute up to $5,000 for each candidate in each election.

For the November 2010 elections, the MAPPS PAC provided $50,000 in support of 43 candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The majority of those candidates won their seats, giving the MAPPS PAC a 95 percent success rate on average.

The MAPPS PAC seeks to raise $75,000 for the 2011-2012 election cycle. John (JB) Byrd, MAPPS government affairs manager, said the committee is a third of the way toward its goal. “We’ve raised $25,000 so far, but we really need the support of all MAPPS member firm principals and executives to hit our target,” he said.

According to Olson, every donation has an impact. “It’s easy to get frustrated with the political system,” he said. “But we’re in a position to get involved and make a difference. We need to support the candidates who support the geospatial profession.”

As for who those candidates are, just ask Palatiello. He makes it his business to know.



Photo: John Palatiello testifies before the FAA.

To learn more about the MAPPS PAC and find out how you can get involved, visit the MAPPS website.