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ARLINGTON, Va.-NAFCU/PAC raised near-record level funds in 2004-the record for annual contributions to the political action committee was set in 2003-elevating the 2003-04 election cycle to a record-setting period. NAFCU/PAC, NAFCU’s political fundraising arm, raised $198,849 in 2004, NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler told Credit Union Times. This amount is down slightly from the $206,112 raised in 2003, which he said was a typical difference between election-years, when PACs are disbursing funds, and off years, when the PAC focuses on taking in funds. The total, $404,961, makes contributions to NAFCU/PAC for the election cycle a record. “We’re pleased with another great year with NAFCU/PAC. It puts the PAC at the top 20-25% of all PACs,” Thaler said. Of its largesse, NAFCU/PAC contributed more than $187,000 last year, and over $280,000 for the entire election cycle, mostly to 125 congressional candidates, according to Thaler. He explained that a couple thousand went to a Bush-Cheney re-election campaign event. Though contributions leaned slightly right with the make-up of the Congress, they were fairly evenly distributed between Republicans and Democrats. Increasing funds enabled credit unions’ second largest national trade association to get noticed on Capitol Hill. “We were more heavily involved in the Democratic and Republican conventions than last year,” Thaler explained. NAFCU is also preparing events for the inauguration this week. Credit unions have strength in numbers as well. “Credit unions, I think, have a great reputation for being involved because they’re in every members’ district, they’re bipartisan.That’s always been a strength of credit unions,” Thaler said. Increasing funds helps ensure “NAFCU has been stepping up to the plate all the way around,” he said. NAFCU/PAC’s success was due in part to its 2004 White Hat Award winner, Members 1st Federal Credit Union in Mechanicsburg, Pa. The honor goes to the NAFCU member that raises the most money for NAFCU/PAC. Members 1st raised $45,000 for the PAC in 2004, a record for the White Hat Award. Members 1st set the previous record at around $27,000 in 2003. George Nahodil, Members 1st senior vice president of marketing, said the credit union aims to win the award again for 2005 and hopes to serve as an example for other credit unions. “We think it’s important for credit unions to support the PACs to support the credit union movement,” he said. Members 1st raised the funds through cookouts, a golf outing, raffles, selling NAFCU/PAC Pals, and other means. One of the raffles was a dinner for four at Members 1st President and CEO Bob Marquette’s house, prepared by Marquette, with Nahodil working as the server. “It’s funny because it wasn’t like it was consuming. It was a constant reminder that we need to be involved in the PAC,” Nahodil said. NAFCU will formally present the symbolic White Hat at its Annual Conference in Las Vegas this summer. -

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