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News Now

Washington
CUNA hones its political clout
WASHINGTON (11/6/08)—The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) flexed its ever-growing political muscles during the 2008 federal election cycle. For instance, CUNA participated in 359 of the 435 races in the U.S. House of Representatives and logged a greater than 90% success rate with its chosen candidates, reported its political affairs department Wednesday. CUNA also pushed the envelope a little further this cycle, according to CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose, by its first-time effort to unseat an incumbent in favor of a more credit union –friendly candidate. CUNA launched one of its two independent expenditure (IE) campaigns in support of Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins (R), who was challenging Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.). Jenkins, a long-time credit union advocate, unseated Boyda in Tuesday’s election. Federal regulations dictate that IEs must be made independently, with no coordination between the group and the candidates' campaign camps. The money is used for such things as independent advertising and mailings in support of a candidate. CUNA also backed the unsuccessful bid of Democratic State Rep. Judy Baker against banker and former State Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer (R), an important race for credit union involvement, noted Gose. “We don’t look at the labels Republican or Democrat when we offer support in a race,” Gose pointed out Wednesday. “We are always looking for candidates whose vision includes a strong and viable place for credit unions in the future.” “We are not a Republican organization. We are not a Democratic organization. We are a credit union organization. We keep that always foremost in our minds and we are always working to be balanced,” Gose said. CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs John Magill added that CUNA’s ability to offer such strong support—especially in the form of IEs—speaks volumes on Capitol Hill to the benefit of the credit union system. “CUNA’s ability to do IEs tells lawmakers that credit unions are playing with the adults when it comes to political activism.” CUNA, state leagues and credit unions have been carefully watching results in the races involving credit union supporters and co-sponsors of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA, H.R. 1537). See related story for results of House and Senate races of key interest to credit unions: "Election results of key CU interest."


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