AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas "Capitol Inside" political Web site www.capitolinside.com announced the top lobbyists and groups in the state--and once again, the Texas Credit Union League made the list.
This is the third year in a row in which TCUL not only made the Texas Lobby Power Ranking list (moving up two notches from last year), but also beat out all other financial institution trade groups--notably, the bank trade associations.
"It's not for lack of money that the bankers were not included," said Buddy Gill, TCUL's chief advocacy officer.
"The reason a credit union trade group made the list is that credit union CEOs, boards and members have been willing to work in political campaigns, deliver checks to candidates and communicate their views to lawmakers," Gill said. "We had a bruising tax battle in 2005. A bill was proposed and credit unions were not exempt. Lawmakers received 5,000 contacts in one week from their credit union constituents, letting them know that this was not a good bill.
"We received the ranking because credit unions wear white hats and do not exist for stockholder benefit. We're working for the benefit of legislators' constituents," Gill added. "As Texas Financial Institutions Vice-Chair Dan Flynn said at this year's Texas Governmental Affairs Conference, 'I tell my colleagues, when the bankers come visit, they come in their Brooks Brothers suits, when the credit union people come, they bring seven buses!'"
Capitol Inside ranks the relative power of different groups in Texas politics. Using a combination of Texas Ethics Commission records, research, institutional knowledge and conversations with lobbyists, lawmakers, consultants and others within the state Capitol community, the group releases the results every year.
The state of Texas ranked second nationally in lobby spending, fourth in the number of lobbyists registered and third in the number of clients they had in 2005, according to Capitol Inside. The number of lobbyists registered with the Texas Ethics Commission was 1,488 in 2006. The group notes that there could be "300 to 400 more signed up to lobby in Texas before the session ends at midnight on May 28."
"We've worked hard to be proactive rather than reactive in our approach to the Texas legislature," said Dick Ensweiler, TCUL president/CEO. "As a great example of our team's 2005-2006 efforts, Texas credit unions and their members who own property will receive a net tax cut under the 2006 tax restructuring bill, HB3."
Noting that other lobby groups at the top of the list give millions of dollars in PAC contributions, Ensweiler said power is not strictly gauged by that measure. "We more than bridge the gap with the caliber of our lobby team, power of our grassroots efforts, a 97% success rate with our PAC, and the commitment of league members."
Ensweiler noted that the TCUL lobby team has 28 cumulative years of experience lobbying in Texas. "There are some very powerful players on the Capitol Inside list. I believe our ranking on it reflects the passion, expertise, and energy of our team." --firstname.lastname@example.org