More than ever, it seems, the younger generation is ready to drive change as political citizens.
Ben Aybar, a North Salem 15-year-old who can’t yet vote, is definitely in that category.
He was looking for a way to be more involved in this year’s midterm elections when he realized anyone could set up a Super PAC to collect funds to advocate for or against candidates.
With a few clicks and online paperwork, “Mets are a Good Team Committee,” was established and open for donations.
The name, which was originally chosen as a lark, became a fitting metaphor, Aybar explained. He wanted to make use of his new Super PAC by targeting his frustrations with politics and playing off the Met’s losing record.
“The Mets are kind of the underdog team,” and along with “rooting out shady campaign finance practices, (the Super PAC) will seek to oust incumbent candidates who are beholden to rich donors and support [underdog] candidates who will work against corruption,” Aybar said.
Super PACs do not raise money for individual candidates; Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules put a $2,700 limit on such donations and traditional political action committees also have a ceiling on how much money they can accept. “Mets are a Good Team” is considered an “independent-expenditure-only political committee that may accept unlimited contributions, including from corporations and labor organizations,” according to the FEC. Monies received are used to run ads, messaging or other communications.
And while Aybar was amazed with what he, a kid in high school, was able to do, a reporter from Sports Illustrated, Emma Baccelieri was also surprised by the baseball-themed Super PAC, but for a different reason.
In a post on Sports Illustrated, Baccelieri explained she had signed up for an email newsletter from Politico, which includes a daily rundown of the day’s news about money and politics along with a daily listing of new PACs.
She had made a habit of reading it every afternoon when Ben’s Super PAC caught her eye.
“There wasn’t much precedent for a baseball team to pop up here, and after the 2018 Mets’ 77-85 campaign, there wasn’t much for anyone to be calling them good, either,”
Baccelieri wrote. “Who, then, was behind the Mets Are A Good Team Committee Super PAC?”
She was able to deduce pretty quickly through FEC paperwork that it wasn’t a typical Super PAC founder and reached out to Ben through an email listed on the forms.
He was at school he got the email told Baccelieri he could talk at 10 a.m., but during the phone call admitted he needed to ask his parents permission for the interview, oh and tell them he started at Super PAC.
“Ben texted me from school and told me that he had started the Super PAC and asked if he could speak with a Sports Illustrated reporter about it,” Susie Aybar, Ben’s mom, told the North Salem News. “It didn’t seem like Ben was joking.”
Aybar attended elementary school in North Salem and is currently a sophomore at Hackley School in Tarrytown. As he watched the presidential election primaries unfold back in middle school, he discovered a keen interest in politics and joined a current events club.
As the midterms drew closer, he researched and learned more and the idea of creating a Super PAC piqued his interest.
“I read a story about how prisoners had made Super PACs,” Aybar said. “I found it kind of weird how unregulated the campaign finance system was and I thought it wasn’t really appropriate that just about anybody could raise any amount of money.”
Ben, the eldest of three brothers, said it was the curious nature of these entities that emboldened him to create and now use his own Super PAC to make American politics more transparent.
“From the town board to the presidency, we will support candidates who exemplify these values,” he added.
Certainly, his enthusiasm and energy is something to be admired.
“I’m proud that Ben is trying to make a difference through his passion for politics—not an easy thing to do at his age; he keeps our whole family engaged and up-to-date on any new political developments,” she added.
In addition to politics, the busy teen plays baseball, participates in the debate club, is an avid chess player and has competed for several years at the Battle of the Books trivia contest at North Salem Library. As for his future plans, he feels drawn to the political arena, as a way to make a difference in the world.
“The reason I think it is important to get involved in politics is because otherwise, you are complacent, he said. “If you look at some terrible thing going on in the world on the news and you just sigh about how terrible it is and you give nothing more than thoughts and prayers to those affected by the crisis, you are saying you are okay with it. And people shouldn’t be okay with the kind of stuff that goes on in the world today.”