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Washington
CUNA Little impact seen from high court expenditure ruling
WASHINGTON (1/22/10)--Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling which lifted restrictions on corporate political spending on communications will likely have little or no impact on the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) most effective political action tools, including partisan communications and independent expenditures. The Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 ruling found that existing limits on the campaign spending of corporate interests were not consistent with the political speech protections set forth in the First Amendment. Conservative members of the court supported the ruling, while the four dissenting members included Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose said the Supreme Court decision “has everything to do with communications by corporations, but little or nothing to do with contributions made to political action committees such as the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC), CUNA’s political action committee (PAC),” and these types of contributions are expected to continue through the upcoming election cycle. Businesses and labor unions were previously required to use PACs to publicly attack or support a given candidate, and there was a limit on those funds. However, with the Supreme Court ruling, these entities will now be able to support or oppose a given candidate in public advertising campaigns, with no need for a separate PAC. However, they will still be required to disclose their involvement in any campaign-related ads. Direct corporate contributions to candidates will still be prohibited under Federal law. Responding to the ruling, President Barack Obama in a release said his Administration would “get to work immediately” and “talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision.” Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who, along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), authored legislation that reformed some campaign finance laws, has also promised to work to restore “as many of the critical restraints on corporate control of our elections as possible."


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