If money really does talk, then CUNA and NAFCU have been doing the financial equivalent of vocal exercises.
The political action committees of both groups each ended last year with six-figure amounts in their coffers, as they gear up for an election year that features a large number of competitive races in the House and Senate.
CUNA’s Credit Union Legislative Action Council ended the year with $797,977 on hand, up from $642,293 at the beginning of the year, according to a report filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
The PAC, which was the 10th largest donor to federal candidates last year according to the Center for Responsive Politics, raised $1.8 million last year.
It made $1.4 million in contributions to federal candidates and committees last year. Of the $977,900 it gave to House and Senate candidates, 51% went to Republicans and 48% went to Democrats, according to the center, a Washington-based research and advocacy group.
By contrast, the PAC of the American Bankers Association, the seventh largest donor to federal candidates, donated $1.08 million to federal candidates last year, 75% to Republicans and 25% to Democrats.
CUNA Senior Vice President for Political Affairs Richard Gose said they hope to raise enough money so they can not only make contributions to candidates and committees but retain the option to do independent expenditures and partisan communications, which they did in 10 House and Senate races in the 2010 election.
He declined to say where they might participate that way this time but noted that “we are always polling and seeing where we can have the most impact.”
NAFCU’s National Association of Federal Credit Unions Political Action Committee had $255,113 on hand at the end of the year, up from $185,470 at the beginning of 2011.
It raised $212,985 last year and made $193,401 in contributions to federal candidates and committees.
During December, both PACs gave money to the reelection campaign of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), even though he doesn’t have to face the voters until 2014. CULAC contributed $2,500 and NAFCU’s PAC gave $1,000.
Both PACs also contributed to ERIC PAC, the leadership PAC of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (D-R-Va.). CUNA’s PAC gave $5,000, NAFCU’s gave $1,000.
NAFCU’s PAC gave $1,000 to Defending America PAC, the leadership PAC of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top member of his party on the Senate Banking Committee. Shelby hasn’t been a huge supporter of credit unions but is in line to become chairman of the panel again next year if, as some analysts predict, the GOP wins control of the Senate.
The leadership of the House Financial Services Committee is definitely going to change after this November’s election.
Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) has to give up the post because GOP rules allow someone to serve a maximum of six years as chairman or ranking member of a panel.