The sluggish economy caused CUNA and NAFCU PACs to raise less money, but they each had very different spending patterns during last year's campaigns.
CUNA's political action committee raised $3.7 million and spent $3.2 million on contributions and independent expenditures during the 2010 election cycle, according to a report filed recently with the Federal Election Commission. By contrast, in the previous cycle, the PAC raised $4.3 million and spent $3.2 million during the 2008 campaign.
NAFCU's PAC raised $408,561 during the 2010 campaign and spent $322,416 on contributions to candidates and political action committees. By contrast, during the 2008 campaign, the PAC raised $458,522 and made contributions to candidates and PACs totaling $415,201.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, CUNA's Credit Union Legislative Action Council is the 12th largest PAC based on contributions to federal candidates. It gave $2.1 million to federal candidates in 2009 and 2010, 58% to Democrats and 42% to Republicans. During the last cycle, it gave $2.3 million in contributions to federal candidates, 54% to Democrats and 46% to Republicans.
The American Bankers Association PAC is ranked 8th. It gave $2.6 million to federal candidates in the 2009-2010 cycle, 66% to Republicans and 33% to Democrats. In the 2008 campaign, the PAC gave $2.9 million, 57% to Republicans and 43% to Democrats.
NAFCU's PAC, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions Political Action Committee, gave $217,711 to federal candidates during the 2010 campaign, 56% to Democrats and 42% to Republicans. By contrast, in the 2008 campaign, the PAC gave $318,030 to federal candidates, 63% to Democrats and 37% to Republicans.
NAFCU Political Director Jennifer Wahlen said while the group hopes the economic turnaround will result in increased contributions, it has been able to provide help to lawmakers who are supportive of credit unions.
"We've been able to help our friends, and there haven't been members whom we have wanted to help but haven't been able to," she said.
During the 2009-2010 cycle, ?CULAC made $837,328 worth of independent expenditures, compared with $530,415 during the previous cycle. Four of the six candidates who received funds won their races.
CUNA Senior Vice President Richard Gose said his group's strategy to increase independent expenditures will enable it to maximize the impact.
"If you are giving a few thousand dollars in a campaign where the candidate is spending a couple of million, that's not going to have as much of impact as if you are spending $100,000, as you can in an independent expenditure or partisan communication," Gose said.
NAFCU's PAC didn't make independent expenditures during either the 2010 or 2008 campaigns.
At the end of last year, CULAC had $318,502 left in its coffers and NAFCU's PAC had $235,529.