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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Hoping to meet its goal of raising $1 million in political action funds through the 2002 election campaign, the California Credit Union League has sent a first-ever direct mail solicitation to suppliers urging them to ante up. “You and/or your company’s contributions represent an opportunity to take an active role in ensuring that credit unions are represented in the halls of government as we pursue an aggressive legislative agenda,” said a letter mailed to more than 1,000 vendors by the league’s political action committee (PAC). PAC Chairman Barry Kane noted in the letter that the league was currently $100,000 short of this year’s goal of raising $400,000 by Oct. 1. Next year’s goal is $600,000. The funds raised would be doled out to both state and federal candidates. “.Your contributions empower us to contribute to candidates who are committed to maintaining a strong credit union system,” Kane said. “As you are aware, we have opponents who resist every effort to extend our services to the 28 million Californians not currently part of the credit union movement. “While we have enjoyed strong growth in recent years, that will only continue if credit union leaders take the steps necessary today to guarantee credit unions have the legal authority to serve the ever-changing needs of our member owners tomorrow,” he said. Bob Arnould, vice president of state governmental affairs for the league, said the letter marked the first time that suppliers were targeted in a direct mail campaign for PAC funds. In the past, they have been contacted directly or have made donations at chapter meetings or to the state PAC. Credit unions were solicited earlier. Arnould said the letter was prompted by the fact that the fund-raising goal through 2002 is double the $500,000 from the last election. Nearly $750,000 was raised in that previous effort. In 1995, he recalled, the PAC’s two-year goal totaled $150,000. “We’ve raised the goal to $1 million, and that requires us to broaden our base of support in order to get there,” Arnould said. “It’s not new for suppliers to participate in political action. The only thing that’s new is that we’re mailing to them directly and we’ll be going after them with a bit more energy.” “It really isn’t new for them to participate,” Arnould said. “We’re just asking for more participation.” A spokesman for the Credit Union Association of Oregon said he was aware of some state credit union leagues seeking PAC funds from its suppliers. “We don’t do a direct solicitation to them for the PAC,” noted Casey Wheeler, a spokesman with the Oregon League which has a $250,000 PAC fund-raising goal. Instead, the league hosts an annual PAC golf tournament with vendors paying for sponsorships. Those sponsorship funds then flow into the PAC. Several credit union suppliers surveyed said they had no formal policy on donating to PACs. Jack Jordan, a 17-year credit union veteran and now chief operating officer at Fidata, Inc. in Texas, said he thought a direct solicitation letter for PAC funds was fairly unusual. “I’ve never seen anything quite like that,” he said of the CCUL’s letter. “I would say it would be unusual for us to receive a direct solicitation letter like that. I can’t ever recall receiving something like that.” Jordan said most of the dozen or so requests his company receives for funding come through its client credit unions which are based nationwide. Fidata’s offerings include automated online lending services and call center services for borrowers. “It doesn’t surprise me that the leagues . . . are always looking for new ways to fund,” he said. “I think a lot of people in the credit union movement support the idea that we should be more proactive politically, rather than reactive.” Heather Bade, marketing manager at CGI Information Management and Consultants in Southfield, Mich., said her company also had no formal policy on contributing to PACs. The company has contributed to PACs in the past, she noted. “It’s basically on a case by case scenario . . . based on what the current political climate is and what they’re asking for the funding for,” she said. “We just don’t donate to anybody that asks.” To encourage vendor contributions, the California League has for the past two years recognized a “supplier of the year” at a PAC event at the league’s annual meeting and convention. The league said suppliers could contribute up to $5,000 to the PAC or directly to a candidate for state office. “Your contributions count toward CCUL’s million-dollar goal and will aggregate toward your overall contribution and recognition at this year’s annual meeting and convention Oct. 14-16 in Anaheim, Calif.,” Kane’s letter said. – [email protected]

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