Yet both hold other key positions that enable them to make life pleasant or difficult for credit unions. Obey chairs the Appropriations Committee and Graves is the ranking Republican on the Small Business Committee. That's why the political action committees of CUNA and NAFCU each gave money in September to the campaign coffers of both men.
Both trade associations' PACs gave Obey's campaign $1,000. CUNA's PAC gave Graves' campaign $1,500, and NAFCU's PAC gave $1,000.
Obey's panel controls all federal spending and has been key on such credit union as raising the amount the Central Liquidity Facility can lend and funding certain projects of the World Council of Credit Unions. The trades and the NCUA also approached his staff about the possibility of attaching a fix to the CARD Act to an appropriations bill. It eventually passed as a stand-alone measure.
The Small Business Committee writes many of the rules regarding the Small Business Administration's lending programs. The panel recently approved several measures to expand those programs to provide greater opportunities for credit unions that do member business lending.
Obey and Graves were the only two lawmakers or challengers who received funds from both PACs in September.
CUNA's PAC-Credit Union Legislative Action Council-raised $136,752 in September, contributed $153,500 to federal candidates and PACs, and had $731,964 in its coffers at the end of the month, according to a Federal Elections Commission report.
NAFCU's PAC-National Association of Federal Credit Unions Political Action Committee-raised $175 in September, contributed $6,700 to federal candidates and PACs, and had $137,998 as of Sept. 30, according to the FEC report.
In 2009, CUNA's PAC has given $1.06 million to federal candidates and committees and NAFCU's PAC has given $94,022.
Each association's top political strategist told Credit Union Times that the approach was designed to maintain the PAC's presence during a nonelection year while marshalling resources for when the campaign season begins in earnest next year.
"The strategy is always to match opportunity and availability," said CUNA Senior Vice President for Political Affairs Richard Gose. "We try to match members who have been supportive of credit unions, and when CEOs are in town, we try to get them to go to the fundraisers."
NAFCU Director of Political Affairs Jennifer Wahlen said the group is trying to attend fewer fundraising events held by candidates or political action committees and sponsor more of their own.