WASHINGTON -- The Credit Union Legislative Action Council of CUNA has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on credit union friends in trouble this primary election season.
Incumbent Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), who has been a long-time credit union supporter, is taking some hits in his primary this election. CULAC has spent nearly $120,000 as of July 31 on direct mailings for his campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission. The funds are recorded as independent expenditures because they are not coordinated with the candidate and are a way for political action committees to contribute more than the $5,000 cap each on primary and general elections.
Additionally, CULAC has put more than $150,000 into the primary campaign of Colorado Republican Jeff Crank, who is running for the seat of his former boss Joel Hefley (R-Colo.) who is vacating the seat; Hefley is endorsing Crank. More than $100,000 went to television and radio ads while another $43,000 is going toward direct mailings FEC reports show.
Crank most recently served as senior vice president of governmental affairs for the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He is a long-time credit union member, his father helped start a credit union in Colorado, and he has been active with the credit unions in the state, according to CUNA Political Director Trey Hawkins.
So far this year, CULAC has expended about $270,000 in independent expenditures and the primaries are not even finished. During the 2003-2004 cycle, the PAC used just over $200,000 and about $100,000 in the 2001-2002 cycle, which was its first foray into independent expenditures.
"It's a value added way we can help some of these candidates we feel really strongly about," Hawkins explained. He added that the growth in receipts CULAC has experienced has made the increases in independent expenditure spending possible. Through June 30, 2006, CULAC has raised a little over $2.7 million for the 2005-2006 election cycle, he said, representing an 11% increase in receipts over the same period in 2003-2004.
Hawkins would not disclose CULAC's anticipated budget for independent expenditures this election season, adding that the situation is very fluid.