CUs Cleared In Congressional ElectionDispute

Register now

WASHINGTON - (03/08/05) -- The Federal Elections Commissionsaid it has no reason to pursue allegations that the Utah League ofCUs and eight of its credit unions violated federal election lawswith an unprecedented outpouring of support for Republican RobBishop during Bishop's successful 2002 primary against the bankers'candidate Kevin Garn. The credit unions provided more than $120,000in in-kind support to Bishop by distributing hundreds of thousandsof newsletters and other correspondence to their members onBishop's behalf, while America First CU even provided Bishop with a$40,000 loan to help finance his campaign. But the FEC ruled thelaw did not require the credit unions to disclose the costs of thenewsletters because they qualified as member communications, whichprimarily addressed non-federal issues. Also the league was notrequired to disclose the costs of telephone polling andneighborhood canvassing they did for Bishop because the polling didnot constitute express advocacy and the canvassing was unreimbursedvolunteer activity. In addition, the loan provided by America FirstCU was not unduly favorable and therefore, legal. The battle, whichended in Bishop's election to Congress, was a brutal one, pittingthe former Speaker of the House and league lobbyist against Garn, abanker and former Majority Leader of the Utah House, who helpedback the banking lobby in its successful efforts to roll-back thestate's multi-county field of membership rules.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.