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WASHINGTON-Political Action Committees, such as the Credit Union Legislative Action Council, may get a leg up on other interest groups following the Supreme Court’s recent ruling upholding most of the new campaign finance law. “Overall, the legislation itself, the vast majority, was upheld by the Supreme Court,” CUNA Political Director Karen Kincer stated. However, neither the ruling nor the McCain-Feingold Act affected PACs much. If anything, “it made us more important players,” she said. Kincer explained that hard money, like that raised by CULAC and other PACs has become more important because of the chokehold the law puts around soft dollars, which were formerly largely unregulated. She added that, though there are strict reporting requirements, CULAC could engage in more independent expenditures during this coming election. These types of advertisements allow PACs to come out in support of a particular candidate at anytime in the election cycle as opposed to issue ads that are subject to time restrictions and paid for by soft money. Last election cycle, CULAC funded independent expenditure advertisements in Nevada and Maine, which Kincer said the PAC found very effective. As far as this year, she added, “We’ll have to see what opportunities present themselves.” The key provision that the Supreme Court struck down was the ban on funds from minor contributors. According to December’s Federal Election Commission report for the month of November, CULAC is hastily racking up hard dollars, ending the month with $544,148.62 on hand. Two of the PACs largest contributors in November were the Pennsylvania Credit Union PAC at approximately $112,000 in contributions and MIPAC (Michigan) at around $99,000. CULAC’s total disbursements came to $116,315.16, according to the report filed with the FEC. Contributions of $5,000 went to Virginia Republican Eric Cantor, #2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer (Md.), and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). Other top recipients included Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) and Congressman Tim Holden (D-Pa.) for $4,500. Due to redistricting in 2002, Holden ran against Republican incumbent and bankruptcy reform sponsor George Gekas-whom CULAC supported-and won. Additionally, CULAC contributed $4,000 to newcomer Debbie Wasserman Shultz, a Florida Democrat, who is running for the open seat in the state’s 20th district. The seat is being vacated by Congressman Peter Deutsch (R-Fla.), who is making a run for Florida’s open Senate seat currently occupied by Bob Graham (D), according to Florida Credit Union League Executive Vice President Aletta Shutes. She said the league has not backed any candidate in the Senate race yet.

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