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<p>WASHINGTON-CUNA’s political action arm, the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) crested the $2 million fundraising mark for an election cycle (2001-2002) at the end of March 2002. CULAC has also made more than $1.3 million in contributions this election cycle. “That’s a milestone for us. That puts us in a different class,” CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose said. He added that CULAC could possibly raise a total of $2.5 million this election cycle and dole out another few hundred thousand dollars. However, Gose explained that it was difficult to predict the organization’s future contributions because there are a few dozen seriously competitive races currently being fought. Due to redistricting, which takes place with the census every ten years, the competition is even stiffer than usual. Seven or eight candidates are vying for some congressional seats with none of them breaking 25%, he said. One tough decision CULAC had to make was to decide whether to back Pennsylvania Congressman George Gekas (R), father of the bankruptcy abuse reform legislation in the House, or Tim Holden (D), another credit union friend. In the end, CULAC supported Gekas, but Gose said Tim Holden is not someone credit unions would go up against “in a normal environment.” CULAC also chose to back Congressman David Phelps (D-Ill), who is on the Small Business Committee, over Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill.). These decisions are often made in conjunction with the state leagues since they, many times, have more experience in dealing with the representatives inside the states, Gose explained. Though lawmakers’ solicitations for campaign contributions and donations dried up some in the wake of the September 11 attacks, that obviously did not slow CULAC’s pace in the end. Gose attributes that to the group’s multi-faceted approach to attracting contributions. He explained that the first layer consists of credit union professionals who were fairly quick to come back because of their deep interest in credit union issues in Washington. Then the boards of directors began giving again as well, though they were a bit slower to contribute again, he said. Finally, he said, the credit union members contribute through the state quarter campaign, which has proven very successful. Even though contributions to CULAC have skyrocketed in recent years, Gose said the PAC cannot sustain its current growth rate. “We have been growing at a phenomenal rate. There’s no question about that, but at some point, we’re going to level off,” he said. Typically PACs receive more funds than usual during an election year and sometimes even more during a presidential election, Gose said. [email protected]</p>

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