EDPAC: A Short Political History

Without a doubt, much of NYSDA’s success in the legislative arena can be attributed to its strong political action committee, EDPAC (Empire Dental Political Action Committee). This bipartisan committee of New York State dentists helps elect responsive political candidates. EDPAC is voluntary, non-profit, and unincorporated, offering contributing members an opportunity to influence the political process. Led by a Board of Directors independently elected, EDPAC makes contributions to political candidates within the State who listen to the dentists’ point of view.

Without EDPAC, NYSDA certainly would not have the ability to help get responsive political candidates elected. But while PACs are common today, this was not always the case. Years ago the members of organized dentistry felt no compelling need to establish political action committees. Indeed, one brave soul who attempted to promote to his fellow dentists the idea of a connection between dental practice and politics was actually thrown out of a dental meeting. That person was Dr. Joseph Accardo (Eighth District), a former NYSDA Board member from Niagara Falls, who in 1969, helped begin the movement that ultimately led to the development of EDPAC. People who are ahead of their time often find themselves behind the eight ball, and that’s certainly the way Dr. Accardo felt in those days. “Dentists looked upon the political activity with suspicion in 1969, a time when many believed that their practices had little to do with politics,” he recalls. A political visionary is not easily deterred, however, and Dr. Accardo vigorously pursued his mission of raising the political profile of a profession that was increasingly being subjected to government regulation. On December 9, 1969, during an Eighth District meeting at the Statler Hilton in Buffalo, which then housed the offices of the Eighth District Dental Society, Dr. Accardo met with four of his colleagues, Drs. Bernie Tofany, Robert Wolfson, Frank Nicklaus, and Larry Wolfgang, each of whom contributed $20 to establish a “war chest.” Dr. Wolfgang assumed the treasurer position. It was hoped the committee would help dentists gain entrée to elected officials to express their concerns. From there, a further meeting was held in Syracuse. Dr. Accardo was elected chairman by representatives from all the state districts. And, thus the DIPIC was formed. DIPIC. Yes, organized dentistry’s first political action group was named the Dental Public Interest Committee. The name was changed to EDPAC in 1970 when Dr. Frank Nicklaus (Seventh District) was elected chairman.

Five of the six founding members of the Dental Public Interest Committee, forerunner to EDPAC

Bernie Tofany

Frank Nicklaus

Lawrence Wolfgang

I. Lawrence Kerr

Joseph Accardo

Robert Wolfson

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