Top political strategists for CUNA and NAFCU said it is too early to determine what the national political trends will be next year but they are determined to ensure that credit unions have more allies on Capitol Hill who can help further the industry’s agenda.
Toward that effort, CUNA’s Credit Union Legislative Action Council had $305,366 on hand at the end of March, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. By the end of the first quarter, it gave $397,000 to federal candidates and committees and raised $328,921.
FEC reports also indicated that NAFCU-PAC had $212,938 on hand at the end of last month. During the first three months of the year it gave $57,000 to federal candidates and committees and raised $34,772.
"We want to help our friends, hopefully find new ones and if we have the resources, defeat people who aren’t friendly to us," said CUNA Senior Vice President Richard Gose.
NAFCU Executive Vice President Dan Berger said his group’s PAC takes several factors into consideration when determining which candidates get their contributions.
"We look at their votes, we look at the committees they are on, and if they are on the leadership. In addition, [if they are] receptive to meeting with credit union representatives," Berger said.
As the battle over delaying the implementation of the Federal Reserve’s interchange rule has heated up, both PACs sent money to the lawmakers that are leading the fight on the issue.
Both gave money to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who is sponsoring legislation that would delay the implementation of the Fed’s rule by two years.
CULAC contributed to Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who is sponsoring companion legislation in the House. She is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s subcommittee that oversees banks and credit unions. That panel has held several hearings this year on the regulatory burden facing financial institutions, and credit union representatives have testified at three of them.
Both PACs gave money to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.). His panel holds in its hands the fate of many items on the credit union wish list–including allowing credit unions to accept supplemental capital and raising the cap on member business loans.
Both also gave money to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a senior member of Bachus’ committee, a strong supporter of credit unions and a member of the GOP leadership. NAFCU’s PAC also gave money to his leadership PAC.
CULAC gave $1,000 to Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), who defeated Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), one of the strongest supporters of credit unions on Capitol Hill. He is likely to have a difficult re-election race next year.
Not to be outdone, the American Bankers Association PAC gave $362,000 to federal candidates and committees during the first quarter, while the PAC of the Independent Community Bankers of America gave $301,250.