In an aggressive fund-raising push, the Credit Union National Association is soliciting contributions for its political action committee directly from credit union members.

The "Deduct-A-Buck" program asks members to automatically transfer a set amount to the PAC on a regular basis-say, $1 per month.

The program is expected to raise a modest $150,000 from members in 23 states this year. But Richard A. Gose, CUNA's vice president of political action and grass roots, predicted the program will generate $1 million a year within five years-or slightly more than the PAC's total 1998 proceeds.

The Federal Election Commission ruled in November that the program is legal because corporations may collect contributions from shareholders for a trade association PAC, and credit union members meet the agency's definition of stockholders. The National Association of Federal Credit Unions is considering a similar program.

Edward L. Yingling, chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association, said such fund-raising efforts undercut the argument that credit unions are small players that deserve tax exemption.

"It is a double-edged sword for them to jack up their PAC," he said.

After the Bankers Roundtable renamed itself the Financial Services Roundtable in April, rumors began circulating that the group would merge with the Financial Services Council.

The speculation mounted after Samuel J. Baptista, the council's departing president, interviewed for the Roundtable's vacant executive director job. Mr. Baptista, who is joining Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. instead, said the speculation had "zero foundation."

But KeyCorp chairman Robert W. Gillespie, who is also the Roundtable's president, said the group "will consider every conceivable possibility," including a merger.

The 25-member Support Group for Modern National Banking will meet here Sunday and Monday to discuss financial reform, the stalled confirmation of Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke Jr., and higher exam fees. Mr. Hawke is to deliver a dinner speech Sunday. ... The New York Bankers Association will hold its annual Washington meeting June 15-16. Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Rep. John J. LaFalce are among the scheduled guests.

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