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Crime has taken over as the issue this election year, it seems, while healthcare reform has all but disappeared. Just shows how issues come and go. And come back again; this isn't the first time crime might make or break a candidate, and you can bet healthcare will be back, too.

Which leads us to issues of particular importance to advertising-like advertising's federal tax deductibility, taxes on advertising space and time, ad bans, etc. Each has disappeared from industry consciousness-for now. That's why we're drawn to the appeal put out by Bozell Worldwide's Chuck Peebler, who doubles as the chairman of an ad industry political action committee.

We're not great fans of PACs, or at least the power of some PACs. But realistically, in the world of politics, PACs have become important cogs in the gears of legislative action. And the ad industry had better be a part of that ongoing action, fully prepared participants when, inevitably, some politician's agenda includes issues that affect advertising.

Mr. Peebler laments the lack of industry support given to the ad industry's Pro-Adpac. He says that, to be anywhere near effective, a PAC should be funded to the tune of at least $100,000. That doesn't seem to be a prohibitive figure considering the dollars involved once a panicked ad industry finds itself playing catch-up and fighting to retain full deductibility or, on the state level, to beat back a tax like the one the state of Florida enacted in the 1980s.

Just for comparison, the broadcasting industry has a PAC that took in more than $475,000 from January '93 to June '94. Pro-Adpac received about $55,000 during that time.

Sure, things for now are quiet on the regulatory front for advertising. But just as healthcare will return to the political front burner-and possibly because healthcare will be back and need methods of funding-a taxing ad issue will arise and the industry will regret not having a PAC that can complement its lobbying efforts.

The ad business has shown it can rally with a full-court press when necessary. The Florida fight was an example. But that battle should have served the additional purpose of showing ad people the need for preparedness, to get ready for the next fight.

Oiling the cogs now will insure smooth functioning-and require fewer dollars-when the next government threat arrives.

As it certainly will.

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