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WASHINGTON-CUNA, NAFCU, and several state leagues scurried around Capitol Hill last week attending numerous opening day events. CUNA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs John McKechnie remarked that it was “a great intersection of the legislative and political efforts we do. McKechnie worked a 12-hour day-8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.-attending around 18 to 20 events, himself. CUNA’s entire legislative and political staffs were on the Hill Jan. 7. Additionally, the Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and South Dakota state leagues were in town to cover events for their delegates and “showing the credit union flag to incoming members,” according to McKechnie. Key events CUNA and the leagues attended included receptions for Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), recently appointed to the position by her father who held the seat but just won the governorship; Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who left his House seat to run for the seat of retiring-Senator Strom Thurmond; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.); Senator Jim Talent (R-Mo.), who unseated incumbent Senator Jean Carnahan, among many others. CUNA attended more than 60% of the swearing in ceremonies, events and fundraisers. NAFCU’s legislative and political staffs were also busy combing Capitol Hill. NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker and Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bill Donovan attended the Hastert reception, as well as the one held for Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), who could reportedly serve on the Banking Committee once the Senate reorganizes. Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) were paid a visit by Donovan, as was retirement savings champion Congressman Ben Cardin (D-Md.). NAFCU staff attended approximately 30 events on the opening day of the 108th Congress. Politics After Campaign Finance Reform Do not blink or you’ll be left in the dust of the whirlwind that is Washington fundraising. You better believe that some of these events attended by credit union community representatives were fundraisers. “Everything is now focused on 2004 elections and it seems like we just got through the 2002 cycle but these folks and the people I’ve been talking to are well aware of this. They’re gearing up,” CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose said. With the banning of soft money for the current election cycle, political candidates need to make up the difference somewhere. “They lost 78% of their funding overnight with that campaign finance reform so they’re all scrambling to figure out how to go forward in the best way, a way that makes sense and they’re all looking at the challenges ahead. So, whoever figures it out first will be the strongest, and, coming into 2004, all bets are off. There’s too much to figure out, too much going on with the presidential [election], with the new campaign chairs, and with campaign finance reform,” Gose explained Because the credit union community has made a miniscule portion of their political contributions in soft money, credit unions will be able to continue business as usual while other industries will have more trouble. For example, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, commercial banks contributed $3.4 million in soft money of a total $17.8 million. [email protected]

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