CUNA Still Cultivating Congressional Leaders

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CUNA continued to guide campaign funding towards congressional leaders last month, with campaign contributions going to so-called leadership PACs like: Leadership PAC 2006 ($5,000); The Bluegrass Committee ($5,000); The Freedom Project ($5,000) and the Mike R Fund ($2,500). The contributions went to such well-heeled congressional leaders as House Financial Services Committee Michael Oxley (R-OH), Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (RKY), Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Mike Rogers (R-MI), all of whom will be critical players as important credit union legislation makes its way through Congress.

So far this year, CUNA has guided $66,000 to leadership PACs, which allow special interests like CUNA to give the maximum allowable campaign contributions of $10,000 to congressional leaders. In the last elections CUNA contributed more than $150,000 to leadership PACs.

The biggest recipient of CUNA funds last month was credit union champion Paul Kanjorski, the Pennsylvania Democrat, who received the maximum allowable $10,000 contribution. Other large contributions went to: Reps. Bob Ney (R-OH), $9,000; Joseph Crowley (D-NY), $9,000; Barbara Lee (D-CA), $5,000; Mike Pence (R-IN), $5,000; Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), $5,000; and $5,000 to Gus Bilirakis, a Florida Republican running to succeed his father Michael Bilirakis, who is retiring after 11 terms in the House.

CUNA's PAC had its busiest month of the year in June, making 124 contributions for a total of $191,900.

Separately, the Federal Election Commission gave its go-ahead in a legal ruling to political action committees to use automatic payroll deduction to help finance campaign activities, giving a potential boost to both CUNA and its rival banking groups. "This will allow credit unions to do payroll deductions for CULAC (CUNA's PAC)," Richard Gose, political director of CUNA, who lobbied the FEC on the ruling, told The Credit Union Journal. "This will benefit a number of groups; anyone who has members who are corporate entities."

Gose said he sees credit union employees authorizing their credit unions to automatically send $2 or $3 each pay period to CULAC, to help campaign contributions on behalf of credit unions. Ironically, the legal opinion was requested from the FEC by America's Community Bankers, one of a number of trade groups that are locked in constant battle with CUNA and the nation's credit unions.

Ed Roberts can be reached at eroberts cujournal.com.

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