Within two weeks of the ascension of Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) to the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee, the political action committees of CUNA and NAFCU each donated $1,000 to his campaign.
Levin succeeded embattled Chairman Charles Rangel-who is being investigated for financial irregularities-and now oversees the panel that has jurisdiction over whether credit unions keep their tax-exempt status. He is a longtime friend of credit unions and had received $3,500 from CUNA's PAC earlier in the campaign cycle and received $1,000 from NAFCU's PAC in the 2008 cycle.
The contributions to Levin, who is not expected to have a difficult re-election race in November, were one of two overlaps in the donations of the two PACs in March, according to reports filed recently with the Federal Election Commission. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican of the Senate Finance Committee, that chamber's counterpart to Ways and Means, received $2,500 from CUNA's PAC (bringing the total to $4,000 this cycle) and $1,500 from NAFCU's PAC.
CUNA's PAC, the Credit Union Legislative Action Council, raised $162,287 last month, contributed $142,000 to federal candidates and committees, and had $1.02 million in its account at month's end.
CULAC contributed $2,500 to the campaign of House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.), whose panel controls all spending. It also gave $5,000 each to the political action committees of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
CULAC is the 19th largest donor to federal candidates-contributing more than $1 million so far this cycle-among the approximately 4,600 political action committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The PAC of the American Bankers Association is ranked 7th, having given $1.35 million to federal candidates this cycle.
NAFCU's PAC, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions Political Action Committee, raised $2,801 last month, contributed $29,375 to federal candidates and committees and had $238,962 in its account at month's end.
Among the recipients of its donations were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), $5,000; House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), $2,500; and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a Banking Committee member and a key negotiator on the restructuring bill, $1,000.
FEC reports also showed that Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), one of the strongest supporters of credit unions in Congress, has a substantial financial advantage over both his primary and general election opponents.Kanjorski had $1.1 million in his campaign account at the end of March. Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien, who is challenging him in the May 18 primary, had $46,794 in his account.