Not Content With Growth, CULAC Has Big Goals

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Among the priorities cited by CUNA's political team for the 109th Congress is to continue building the association's political action committee, which has become one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill.

Political director Richard Gose said CUNA is expecting the Federal Election Commission to issue a legal opinion this spring that will allow PACs such as CUNA's to accept payroll deduction from employees, making it easier to collect campaign funds. This will help create more funds for political donations.

Gose's team has already built CUNA's PAC, known as CU Legislative Action Council-(CULAC) into one of the most fertile in Washington. For the just completed 2003-2004 election cycle CULAC and its affiliated state leagues made more than $2.9 million in campaign contributions.

That puts the top credit union PAC among the 10 biggest contributors in the capital, a list that includes perennial powerhouses such as the National Association of Realtors, National Auto Dealers Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Beer Wholesalers Association, National Association of Home Builders, Association of Trial Lawyers and the American Medical Association. Campaign contributions translate into support in Washington, and for the third straight elections, CUNA's PAC made more contributions than its chief rival, the American Bankers Association's BankPac, which made $2.2 million in contributions.

For the 2003-2004 elections, CUNA and the leagues contributed $2.3 million to individual candidates for the House and Senate; $370,000 to Republican and Democrat party conduits; and $206,000 in so-called independent expenditures to support favored candidates. Among the individual contributions was more than $200,000 in donations to so-called leadership PACs, which congressional leaders operate separately from their own campaign funds and use to prop up allied candidates or to finance travel.

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