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WASHINGTON-CUNA’s far-reaching political arm disbursed large sums of money in the final days before the elections. According to CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose, there is a simple, logical explanation for the eleventh-hour outpouring. “Campaigns need money at different times of an election cycle for different things,” he explained. Some tight races may need money early in the primary or maybe just early in the general election, Gose said. Other times the race does not materialize until later when last minute advertising and other items are needed. Several candidates from both parties received $5,000 contributions from CULAC at crunch time, according to Federal Election Commission data, including Senator-elect Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.); Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who won a run-off December 7; Congressman Calvin Dooley (D-Calif.); Congresswoman Karen Thurman (D-Fla.), who lost her reelection bid after serving five terms; Congressmen-elect Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.); Congresswoman-elect Katherine Harris (R-Fla.), made famous from the state’s 2000 election fiasco; and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.). CULAC also made large contributions to Congressman Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.; $4,970) and Lee Fletcher (R-La.; $4,000), who has apparently lost his race for the open seat, though a recount of the very close election is possible. For the 2002 election cycle, CULAC spent about 9.8% of the total $2.1 million given out, including $100,000 in advertisements in Nevada and Maine. This is not unusual though, Gose said. He pointed out that in the 2000 election cycle, CULAC spent 11.5% of its total $1.6 million in the last month, and in the 1998 cycle, the political action committee spent 5.8% of its $1.1 million. CULAC raised more than $3 million this election cycle, a new record, Gose said. It also contributed a significant $600,000 more, approximately, in the 2002 races than in 2000, which was a presidential election year. [email protected]

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