The $27 billion WesCorp has created the WesCorp Credit Union Employees PAC to enhance and formalize its commitment to supporting the political plight of the credit union industry.
"This is something we've had a couple jumpstarts on in the past. Our CEO (Bob Siravo) is very supportive of it and tasked us with creating one," said Sheri Ledbetter, director of public affairs for WesCorp and chairman of the PAC.
Ledbetter said the PAC was carefully crafted, from its name to its focus. "We felt it was important to have the word 'credit unions' in there. Hopefully most legislators know credit unions, but we know they don't always know," she said.
It was also important for it to be an employee PAC. Ledbetter said the PAC would not solicit from its 1,000 credit union members because that would put it in direct competition with other CU PACs. "This will strictly be an employee-based PAC. We are legally able to go to all salaried, exempt employees," she said. "WesCorp has always heavily supported the California Credit Union League PAC. We didn't want this to compete with them and dilute their dollars." The PAC has a modest goal of reaching $10,000 by 2008--the potential might be much greater. "Not even a week in we are already almost at the goal. We felt anything less than $10,000, with 2008 being a presidential year, and we would not be a significant player in the political action world," she said.
The $10,000 was reached just from solicitation to WesCorp's 40 members of the management team.
Ledbetter said she is hopeful that employees will choose to contribute through automatic deduction from their paychecks, and no amount is too small.
Having a PAC also solves a longstanding problem of trying to support other political fundraisers.
"Typically if a member is having a fundraiser and asks us to be a sponsor or host, we can't contribute anything from WesCorp. We would have to run around and get individuals to contribute. Now we can contribute. This gives us a more united voice," she said.
Technically, there are two PACs, one each for the federal and state level. Ledbetter is proposing an 85/15 split with every 85 cents going to the federal PAC and 15 cents going to the state PAC. "We are federally chartered and have much more at stake with federal legislation, but we can't ignore the state side," she said.
Ledbetter said the PAC will look to support legislators who meet two requirements--they support credit unions and they are people of integrity. She also noted that it would be a bi-partisan PAC.
She believes more credit union PACs make sense because if one PAC, say that of the California CU League, maxed out its contribution to a candidate, another CU PAC could add more financial support.
WesCorp utilized an outside law firm versed in PACs to help set it up. It will also manage the filings and other legal aspects of the PAC and act as treasurer.
Ledbetter stressed that since WesCorp is new to this, member input is welcome. "This is brand new for us. I don't see any reason to make all of our decisions in a bubble. Some of our credit unions out there are very close to the players. We'll certainly welcome input on who to support," she said.
WesCorp is the first corporate to launch a PAC, though U.S. Central, the corporates' corporate, also has an employee PAC. --email@example.com