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ARLINGTON, Va. – Latching on to the success of the beanie baby collectibles, NAFCU’s political action committee has made impressive strides in growth, namely thanks to their colorful bean bag bears. According to NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler, PAC Pals-as the bears are called-account for approximately 50% of NAFCU/PAC’s receipts this election cycle. The individual he credits with the idea is Associate Director of Political Affairs Erica Anderson, who came on NAFCU’s staff nearly three years ago. “Since she’s come on board, our PAC has grown greatly. It’s been really from the top down, from the NAFCU Board through [NAFCU President and CEO] Fred [Becker] down, putting emphasis on the PAC and promoting political involvement, political action for credit unions,” Thaler said. He explained that Anderson has traveled the country promoting the PAC and Becker has brought it up during his numerous speaking engagements. “We’ve just been able to get a lot more smaller contributions, but before we just had bigger events,” Anderson said. “With the $5 donation, that’s probably where a lot of the money’s come from.” More small dollar ideas are on their way from NAFCU, but Thaler said the trade association was not ready to unveil them at this time. “It’s a lot easier to get a few bucks at a time, [like the] $5 for the little PAC Pal or some other item,” he said. “People oftentimes may purchase one a month and over the course of the year that’s $60, but if you’re the person that’s donating that money, you don’t see it as a $60 contribution.A lot of small contributions add up to big money over time.” Not including individual PAC Pals purchasers, NAFCU has about doubled the number of donors it has, according to Anderson. Thaler said this method emphasizes and takes advantage of credit unions’ grassroots potential. Additionally, conference events have always been a staple of NAFCU/PAC’s fundraising efforts. Thaler explained that NAFCU has stepped up the presence of the PAC at NAFCU conferences and added events like their golf tournament at Annual Conference and the PAC breakfast at Congressional Caucus, which bring in about 30% to 35% of the PAC’s funds. The rest of the funds come from NAFCU member efforts, Thaler said. “Our credit unions have been very creative in different ways to help raise funds,” he observed. For example, credit unions have thrown pizza parties at lunch with employees throwing in money to help “pay for the pizza,” auctions, and, of course, selling PAC Pals. “We’re seeing with the bankers’ attacks, it is important to have a strong credit union voice in Washington to build relationships and support credit union friends in Congress. The PAC helps ensure the credit union voice is heard,” Thaler said. He noted that he feels NAFCU has become more influential as the PAC has grown. “We’re able to do more. With a larger PAC we’re obviously able to help more friends and get involved in more races,” he explained. NAFCU had five times the receipts at this point in the election cycle (2003-2004) than it did in the last presidential election cycle (1999-2000). NAFCU/PAC has three times the cash on hand and made five times the contributions. The PAC’s goal is to raise $300,000 to $400,000 this cycle and give $250,000 to $300,000 to congressional candidates. NAFCU/PAC’s previous record was $86,000 received and $100,000 given out around the time of CUMAA. [email protected]

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