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WASHINGTON-Though the two major credit union trades had contributed funds to Congressman Patrick McHenry’s (R-N.C.) election campaign, contributions ceased after the introduction of McHenry’s Credit Union Charter Choice Act (H.R. 3206), which lessens NCUA’s role in credit union-to-bank conversions. In April of last year, the Credit Union Legislative Action Council of CUNA had contributed $2,000 to McHenry’s re-election bid and NAFCU/PAC had put in $500 each in February and May. The charter choice bill, introduced July 12, 2005, would limit NCUA’s authority over credit union conversions to mutual savings banks. A hearing on the bill’s issues is expected some time in May though a final date has not been nailed down as of press time, but CUNA and NAFCU both said they anticipated invitations to testify. Now as spring and an election year hit Washington again, NAFCU Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs Dan Berger hosted a fundraiser April 4 to benefit McHenry with former co-worker, America’s Community Bankers lobbyist Greg Mesack as well as lobbyists from MasterCard, the Mortgage Bankers Association and Washington Mutual. Berger ended up having a scheduling conflict and NAFCU Director of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler attended instead, according to NAFCU Communications Manager Rebecca Somers. She explained that NAFCU is concentrating on the positions that they do agree on with McHenry, a member of the Financial Services Committee, like GSE reform, data security, and flood insurance. Somers added that the trade association hopes that “all issues on which we disagree.will come closer to the way the credit union industry would want.” NAFCU is opposed to the so-called McHenry bill as introduced, Thaler said, and has since issued a white paper on the legislation. While McHenry has earned notoriety among credit unions in his first term in Congress, he is not one to turn a back to either. Good or bad, The Washington Times recently reported fallen former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) naming McHenry as a possible future successor to head up the House Republicans. When contacted by the Times about DeLay’s remark, McHenry responded, “I’m blown away…I’m so excited that Tom DeLay would say that about me.” NAFCU said the public would have to wait for filings with the Federal Election Commission to find out how much was spent and how much was raised for McHenry through the fundraiser. As for CULAC’s 2005 contribution to McHenry, CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose explained, “McHenry is a member of Congress on a key committee for us.” He added that “obviously” the contribution was made “before all this went down.” However, he continued, “We don’t want to discount any member of Congress.” Credit unions surely remember that House Financial Institutions Subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) was one of only a handful of lawmakers to vote against the Credit Union Membership Access Act (H.R. 1151). By continuing to work with Bachus, credit unions have forged an excellent relationship with him and even persuaded him to introduce and push through the House the Net Worth Amendment for Credit Unions Act (H.R. 1042) and include credit union parity language in the deposit insurance reform legislation. Bachus (R-Ala.) was one of a number of key Republicans to receive large contributions from NAFCU/PAC; he got $5,000, as did Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and the National Republican Campaign Committee, Federal Election Commission filings revealed. NAFCU/PAC also gave $3,000 to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley’s (R-Ohio) Leadership PAC 2006. Additionally, Chris Chocola (Ind.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (Calif.) each got $2,000 contributions. Thomas, who instigated NCUA’s data collection effort, has since announced he will not seek re-election. NAFCU/PAC also made a $2,000 contribution to Congressman Mel Watt’s (D-N.C.) re-election campaign. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, NAFCU/PAC contributions for the 2005-2006 election cycle stand at 47% for the Democrats and 53% for the GOP. NAFCU/PAC concluded the quarter with $158,576.65 on hand after receiving $48,136.79 in contributions and giving out $62,359.80 filings with the FEC revealed. These figures are up from election year 2004, when NAFCU/PAC was at $46,055.08 in receipts and $59,801.47 in contributions, leading Director of Political Affairs Murray Chanow to forecast the PAC’s best year ever. The Credit Union Legislative Action Council of CUNA, which ranks fifth overall among all PACs according to the Center for Responsive Politics, targeted its funds toward leadership and credit union friendly lawmakers as well during the month of March. PACs have the option to file quarterly or monthly; NAFCU/PAC files quarterly, while CULAC does the latter. CULAC contributed $5,000 each to AmeriPAC: Fund for a Greater America, established by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Keep Our Majority PAC, a leadership PAC for Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). The credit union PAC also gave $4,000 to Rely on Your Beliefs, for House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), as well as $5,000 to his re-election campaign directly. Bachus’ (R-Ala.) Growth and Prosperity PAC received a $4,000 boost. Contributions are all about opportunity, CUNA’s Gose explained, which has contributed to the increasing PAC contributions to leadership PACs such as these. “I wouldn’t say there’s a conscious decision to go that route,” he said. After the flow of soft money was pinched off following the campaign finance reform laws, leadership PACs became a feasible option for politicians to help raise funds for their friends who might need a helping hand. Additionally, CULAC gave Assistant Minority Leader John Spratt (D-S.C.) $3,000. Congressman Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), an original co-sponsor to the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 2317), received $4,000 for his re-election bid and Clay Shaw (R-Fla.), a member of the Ways & Means Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation, got a $3,000 contribution. CUNA is doing something this election season it rarely does: betting against an incumbent. CULAC is backing Max Burns, a former Republican lawmaker from Georgia, with $5,000 against freshman Congressman John Barrow (D). “Burns has been a very good friend to credit unions. This was one of those situations where you just have to stick with your friends,” Gose explained. He added that Barrows had not necessarily done anything negative toward credit unions. CULAC’s contributions this year at $504,594.11 are tracking a bit behind where they were in 2004, the last election year, when they reached $530,766.23. However, the PAC had more funds on hand at the end of the first quarter 2006, with $510,169.37 as opposed to $479,114.01 at the same time in 2004. Receipts shot up from $299,530.54 at the end of the first quarter of 2004, to $453,639.82 for 2006. -

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