CULAC Starts Sharing From Large Warchest

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CUNA last month began to spend some of the large cash reserves its political action committee has built up in the run-up to the November elections.

The PAC, known as CU Legislative Action Counsel, or CULAC, had accumulated $710,000 at the end of May, the largest warchest in its history. In what is expected to be its most fertile period ever, CULAC began doling out more of the funds last month, making a total of $186,000 in contributions in 125 donations.

That included donations in some of the hottest races in the Senate, where control is expected to come down to just a few seats for either party. Contributions went to Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), $2,000; Arlen Specter (R-PA), $1,000; Rep. Jim DeMint (R-NC), $5,000; all expected to be in close races. Murkowski, who was appointed two years ago to the seat held by her father, Frank Murkowski, is facing former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles in November. Specter, who had a brief scare in the Republican primary, is expected to have an easier time against three-term Rep. Joe Hoeffel. And DeMint is expected to be in a very close race against a still undetermined Democrat to succeed Democrat Ernest Hollings, who is retiring after seven terms in the Senate.

CULAC contributions last month also went to: Sens. Sander Levin, D-Mich.(D-MI), $2,000; Ron Wyden (D-OR), $1,000; Charles Grassley (R-IA), $1,500; and Dan Inouye (D-HI), $1,000.

The biggest CULAC contributions last month went to: Reps. Robert Matsui (D-CA), $5,000; Zach Wamp (R-TN), $4,000; Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), $5,000; Bart Stupak (D-MI), $3,650; Michael Turner (R-OH), $4,500; and Jon Porter (R-NV), $4,500. Also two North Carolina candidates for open House seats received CUNA support: Democrat George Butterfield ($5,000) and Republican David Huffman ($5,000).

CUNA also made contributions to several leadership PACs, including Future Leaders PAC, operated by Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), $5,000; Leadership PAC, for Rep. Michael Oxley (R-OH), $3,500; Vision for Tomorrow Fund, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), $1,000; and PAC to the Future, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), $5,000.

CUNA's political action committee has become one of the biggest in Washington by virtue of contributions. Through the first 18 months of the current two-year election cycle CUNA has made $1.7 million in contributions.

That includes $1.4 million in donations to individual candidates in the House and Senate, $90,000 to conduits of both the Republican and Democratic parties, and $125,000 to leadership PACs, which the leaders use to bolster favored campaigns-including their own.

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