WASHINGTON (4/6/12)--A group of 10 state banking association leaders have joined together to form a new pro-banker SuperPAC, dubbed "Friends of Traditional Banking."
The SuperPAC's mission, as stated on its homepage, friendsoftraditionalbanking.com, is to support members of Congress that support bank interests, and "to replace those members of Congress who do not."
While political action committees are limited in the amount of money they can spend on a given contest, SuperPACs do not have such limitations. They are only prevented from having direct contact with the candidate they are supporting.
The Washington Post reported that the SuperPAC intends to focus on two electoral contests per cycle.
"Congress isn't afraid of bankers… They don't think we'll do anything to kick them out of office. We are trying to change that perception," Oklahoma Bankers Association President/CEO Roger Beverage told American Banker (April 5).
Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Vice President of Political Affairs Trey Hawkins said the development of this pro-bank SuperPAC highlights the importance of credit union grassroots advocacy, and political action by CUNA's Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC), in this critical election year.
"Many credit union friends in Congress are stepping up on behalf of credit unions in the face of increased banker opposition, and CULAC and credit unions must be there to stand with those who stand with credit unions, especially if our friends are going to find their re-election campaigns targeted by a banker Super PAC," he added.
CULAC has engaged in independent expenditures on behalf of credit union friendly candidates for nearly a decade, and currently collects contributions from more than 29,000 individuals, with the average contributor donating around $65 per calendar year, Hawkins said.
The many, small-dollar individual contributions are indicative of the depth of credit unions' grassroots support, which has always been the movement's greatest political asset, Hawkins added. "We have one great advantage that banks cannot compete with, and that is our 94 million members, 65% of whom say that a candidate's stance on credit union issues matters."
CULAC raised an estimated $1.8 million in funds from credit union supporters in 2011, and those funds were distributed evenly among Republican and Democratic candidates.
CULAC, as of Jan. 1, had nearly $800,000 in funds to spend on 2012 elections.