There’s no doubt the country is politically polarized, and CUNA has been receiving feedback regarding league endorsements and PAC donations that reflect that divide, said President/CEO Bill Cheney.
Feedback has been both positive and negative, and has included criticism and endorsements of both parties.
“However, most Americans just want solutions that are good for the country, and we want solutions that are good for credit unions,” Cheney said.
As such, the trade association doesn’t consider party affiliation when spending PAC funds, Cheney said.
In fact, according to opensecrets.com, a website that tracks PAC donations, of the $1.67 million CULAC has spent on candidates during this election season, 51% has gone to Republicans while 48% has been donated to Democratic campaigns.
Credit union consultant, blogger and Capitol Hill veteran Marvin Umholtz said the nation’s political divide is apparent within the industry, and fuels comments he receives from his readers and colleagues.
Umholtz, who said he isn’t affiliated with either major party, blames Democrats and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for turning credit union leaders against progressive candidates.
Umholtz said the Massachusetts Credit Union League’s endorsement of Democrat Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate was particularly distasteful to credit unions, given her history with the CFPB.
“In my mind, Elizabeth Warren fits the category of a candidate who did damage to credit unions even worse than Durbin,” Umholtz said.
The Olympia, Wash.-based consultant admitted his dislike of the CFPB and the Dodd-Frank Act may be extreme, but the bureau’s new rules that were mandated by Dodd-Frank have done so much damage to the credit union business model, Umholtz said, nobody who supported or voted for the bill should receive any credit union support this election season.
“That ‘no support’ group includes many more Democrats than Republicans because of the highly partisan vote in 2010,” Umholtz said.
Cheney said CUNA doesn’t give or deny support based on just one issue. For example, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who is the primary sponsor of member business lending bill S. 2231, hasn’t marched in step with all points of the credit union agenda, and he’s only a freshman senator.
“But, there’s no reason to think that he wouldn’t be a credit union friend,” Cheney said.
Umholtz asserted that for credit unions, party does matter during the 2012 elections. The fate of the nation’s economic recovery, the reduction or increase of regulatory burden, and the renewal of consumer confidence that leads to economic recovery are more important to credit unions than a candidate’s enthusiasm for credit union legislation, he said. .
“I don't see the Democratic Party delivering that with its current policy direction,” Umholtz said. “We also don't know what the Republicans would deliver if in the complete majority, but can it possibly be worse than what we have now?”