CUNA targeting record-level spending for 2020 election

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The Credit Union National Association is pledging to spend $7 million in the 2020 election cycle – its highest amount ever – in support of candidates on both sides of the political aisle.

While state credit union leagues will raise their own funds for state-level political action committees, CUNA and the leagues have committed to $7 million in fundraising through the Credit Union Legislative Action Council. CULAC is set to report more than $2.8 million in fundraising for 2019, and 2020’s estimate is expected to set a record for CUNA and the federal PAC.

“This record figure is a testament to the fact that credit union members have a vested interest in the political process,” Trey Hawkins, CUNA’s deputy chief advocacy officer, said in a press release. “The CUNA/league system stands apart from others in the political space because not only is CULAC generating grassroots funds, we’re supporting candidates who back the structure and mission of credit unions. Since the 1970’s our work has ensured that congressional candidates on both sides of the aisle champion credit unions.”

More than $1.8 million in contributions have already been seeded for 355 House and Senate candidates running this year, CUNA said, and the PAC has $1.7 million cash in hand as campaigning begins in earnest.

With more funds than ever planned for candidates and politicians under more scrutiny than ever, the year ahead could also see more questions arise surrounding candidates’ words and actions and whether donors are willing to stand by the politicos they supported. Shortly before the 2018 midterm election the Northwest Credit Union Association pulled its support for Washington State Rep. Matt Shea after a slew of controversial social media posts arose. Not long after, several major companies requested their campaign contributions to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) be returned following comments from the senator that some deemed to be inappropriate. CUNA was not among those groups who requested their donations be returned.

Of the candidates who received CULAC support in 2018, more than 380 were elected to Congress, which CUNA said represents a 91% success rate for midterms. CUNA and other industry groups regularly support candidates on both sides of the aisle.

“The record-setting nature of the funds raised [for 2020] underscores the priority that our community places on engaging in the political process. We have an interest in the process and a point of view to share,” said CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle. “Our contributions support both parties across all aspects of the federal government and we are proud to bring our community’s voice to the table in a meaningful way.”

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