CUNA Hedges Its Congressional Bets

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WASHINGTON – CUNA, which has tilted its vast campaign spending toward the Democrats the past two election cycles, has sent tens of thousands of dollars in PAC contributions to Republican leaders in recent months as the GOP appears to be closing in on control of Congress.

Over the last two months CUNA has made contributions to so-called leadership PACs with names such as Win Back America, Road to Freedom, The Freedom Project, Liberty Project, Heartland Values and ERIC PAC, which are controlled by Republican leaders Mike Pence, Ed Royce, John Boehner, Randy Neugebauer, John Thune and Eric Cantor.

CUNA contributed $5,000 to House Minority Leader Boehner’s The Freedom Project; $2,500 to Republican Whip Cantor’s ERIC PAC; $1,500 to the personal campaign of Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference, and $1,000 to his leadership PAC, Win Back America. It also made a $5,000 contribution to Royce’s Road to Freedom PAC and a $2,000 contribution to Neugebauer’s The Liberty Project and a $5,000 contribution to Vice Chairman of the Republican Conference Sen. John Thune’s Heartland Values PAC.

To be sure, CUNA has made similar contributions to Democratic leaders, including most recently a $5,000 contribution to embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s The Searchlight Leadership Fund. But contributions in recent months have been tilting more toward Republicans as the GOP appears on the verge of winning back control of one or both chambers of Congress.

Contributions to leadership PACs are telling because the money is used by congressional leaders not for their own personal campaigns, but to bolster other campaigns.

So far, CUNA and its state leagues have contributed more than $250,000 to leadership PACs and will probably approach the $500,000 contributed in the 2007-2008 before this election cycle is over.

CUNA, which is expected to spend more than $4 million this campaign cycle, ended August with more than $1.1 million in its campaign war chest, an all-time high.

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