FEC Rules Credit Unions Can match Certain PAC Donations

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In response to a request from CUNA, the Federal Election Commission has issued a ruling that allows credit unions to match certain PAC donations by a member to the charity of the member's choice.

The ruling means that for every dollar a credit union member contributes to the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC, CUNA's federal PAC) the member's credit union can make a dollar-for-dollar donation to a charity of that member's choice. CUNA noted that examples of such charities include the Children's Miracle Network, American Cancer Society and the Red Cross.

The FEC issued the ruling as an advisory opinion. CUNA said the ruling only applies to a CUNA-affiliated credit union offering a donation to a charity chosen by one of its members to match a contribution made by that member to CULAC.

CUNA, CULAC, and the North Carolina Local Government Employees FCU of Raleigh, N.C. sought the opinion.

Similar programs are used widely among corporations in their political fundraising efforts. Additionally, trade associations whose members are individuals (such as doctors, lawyers or engineers) have used such programs.

"This decision, for the first time, makes it clear credit union members of CUNA may provide matching charitable donations," said CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica. "Given the credit union community's strong affinity for charitable giving, this program extends to credit unions a clear channel for significantly boosting charitable causes, while at the same time increasing the level of contributions to CULAC."

Mica pointed out that, under the law, credit union members may not receive any tax deduction or other benefit resulting from the matching charitable donation.

CUNA, CULAC and the NCLGE FCU originally requested the opinion from the FEC in December of 2003.

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