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In the Jan. 19 issue of Credit Union Times, Sarah Snell Cook profiled the success of NAFCU’s political fundraising arm, NAFCU/PAC. While it’s important to recognize the success of NAFCU/PAC, it cannot go unnoticed that national and state PACs collectively do much to help shape the credit union political landscape. “All politics,” the late House Speaker Tip O’Neil once observed, “is local.” It is crucial to the credit union movement that state league PAC fundraising efforts are not overlooked when profiling successes within the movement. All of our collective efforts are necessary to battle the latest bankers’ attacks. To quote Speaker O’Neil again when asked about the budget negotiations of his day, “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking real money!” While it may be a bit too optimistic borrowing this quote from the former speaker, it should not go unnoticed that Michigan’s CULAC-affiliated federal PAC (MCULLAF) raised a little over $200,000 in 2003 and nearly $300,000 in 2004 for a grand total of $491,378 for the election cycle. This success propelled this Michigan federal PAC to rank as the second largest credit union affiliated PAC in the country – only behind CULAC itself. Of these contributions from Michigan credit union members, $201,726, or 121% of Michigan’s CULAC goal, was passed on in direct contributions to CULAC. This total contribution was only surpassed by the Florida League’s CULAC contribution. The balance of money raised for Michigan’s federal PAC has been used to make contributions to candidates for Congress, allowing Michigan credit unions to max out on contributions to their supporters while passing considerable additional funds on to CULAC for the good of the entire credit union movement. The growth in PAC fundraising in Michigan has been outstanding due to the strong local support of credit unions through their local chapters. Under the leadership of our Director of Advocacy Todd Stabenow, in recent years fundraising has grown from $98,000 in 1997 to $290,000 in 2004. In addition, Michigan is especially focused on raising dollars for its state PAC. In 2004, credit union members, staff and volunteers contributed over $76,000 specifically for the state PAC – an increase of 27% over the previous record. Michigan’s program is but one example of the successes that take place in every state coordinated at the league level. The record growth of CULAC – raising $3,476,415 over the last election cycle – in conjunction with local PAC efforts are evidence that together state leagues and CUNA are raising the bar for political action. Our grassroots force is still our differentiating strength and always will be. But effective PAC fundraising is also a critically important part of political advocacy. Local fundraising and coordination by state leagues can largely be credited for the recent upsurge in political action fundraising. If credit union national and state PACs cooperatively work to raise a few hundred thousand here, and a few hundred thousand there – that combined with our tremendous grassroots capability – pretty soon you’re talking real political power! David Adams CEO Michigan CU League Plymouth, Mich.

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