WASHINGTON - From January 2005 through March 31, 2006, congressional campaigns raised $657.2 million for an increase of 13% over the same period in 2003-2004, according to the Federal Election Commission.
The Credit Union Legislative Action Council, CUNA's political action committee, is working hard to keep pace. CULAC's receipts through April of this year of $560,639.94 far surpass where it was in 2004, a presidential election year, at $429,150.23. The PAC has also been more generous this year, contributing $606,973.13 through April as opposed to $577,343.35 during the same period in 2004.
Lawmakers from Ohio were major beneficiaries of CULAC's contributions in April with Majority Leader John Boehner (R) receiving $2,500 and The Freedom Project, a leadership PAC of which he is the honorary chair, got a $5,000 infusion from CULAC. Financial Services Committee Member Deborah Pryce (R) received a $5,000 contribution, while Ways and Means Committee Member Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D) and Jean Schmidt (R), who won a special election last summer to replace Rob Portman (R) then named U.S. trade representative, received $2,500.
CULAC is also getting its feet wet in some open seats. It contributed $10,000 to the campaign of Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), who is running for the seat vacated by Randy Cunningham (R) after he pleaded guilty to bribery and other charges. CULAC was able to give $5,000 for the primary and another $5,000 for the special election to be held June 6.
Kevin McCarthy, a Republican California State assemblyman, received $5,000 from CULAC. He is running for the seat of the retiring Ways & Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.). Additionally, CULAC contributed $2,500 to Albio Sires' (D-N.J.) campaign to replace Congressman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who was appointed to the Senate by former Senator Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), now governor. CULAC is also supporting state senator from Nebraska Adrian Smith (R) with $5,000 in his race to represent the state's third district. The current representative in that seat, Tom Osborne (R), ran for governor unsuccessfully.
Though fairly evenly divided between the parties, CULAC's contributions do lean toward Republicans, the party in power right now. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 57% on CULAC funds have gone to Republicans and 43% to Democrats so far this election cycle (2005-2006).