<p>WASHINGTON-The Credit Union Legislative Action Committee of CUNA (CULAC) has donated $90,000 so far this year to the Republican and Democratic parties. CULAC donated $15,000 each to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Republican National Committee Majority Fund, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The funds count as hard money contributions. While it may seem CULAC is supporting opposing sides, it is actually supporting credit union interests, CUNA Vice President of Political Action Richard Gose said. As a trade association with bipartisan support, by playing both sides of the field, "It gets us access to both of the parties," he added. Credit union interests are then represented at briefings and CUNA gets invited to meet candidates and raise issues and become more informed. Top money getters from CULAC among the candidates were Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) receiving $2,500 and Representatives Norman Dicks (D-Wash.) receiving $2,000; Doug Ose (R-Calif.) receiving $4,500; and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) receiving $3,000. On the receiving end, CULAC got a check for $32,000 from the California Credit Union League. CULAC began the year with more than $300,000 in its coffers and added $136,358.24 since the beginning of the year. The political action committee (PAC) donated almost as much as it took in with a total of $133,115.45 in campaign contributions. In related news, Congress just passed Campaign Finance Reform legislation, and Pres. Bush signed it on March 27, but that will not be the end of the bumpy ride for the bill. Interested parties expect several legal battles ahead for the bill. "We're going to watch carefully how the FEC [Federal Election Commission] looks at this and how some of the legal challenges play out," Gose said. He explained that the new campaign finance reform laws should not negatively impact CULAC's activities in the future; in fact, he described it as a "shot in the arm." "Not many groups have a universe of 80 to 85 million people with which you communicate," he commented. With so much people power, dollars are less important. He pointed out that since there will be less money available next election cycle from corporations and PACs, candidates will have to rely more on money from individuals. CULAC implemented `Project Zip Code' this year, which is aimed at getting individuals from the credit union community to make donations to candidates. While this allows CULAC to indirectly funnel more funds into the system, the FEC has specific provisions within the law regarding this type of activity also. "We don't only comply with the letter of the law. We also comply with the spirit of the law," Gose said. [email protected]</p>

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