olitical campaigns are
expensive and the cost
of running them continues to soar.
The total cost of congressional
campaigns reached more than
$5.7 billion in 2018, up from $2.5
billion just a decade ago, according to the Center for Responsive
The money’s got to come from
somewhere and that somewhere
is Political Action Committees.
National credit union trade
groups operate PACs, as do the
banking trade groups.
CUNA recently announced that
it would spend some $7 billion
during the 2020 election cycle.
“This record figure is a testament
to the fact that credit union members have a vested interest in the
political process,” Trey Hawkins,
CUNA deputy chief advocacy officer for political action, said.
The end-of-year campaign fi-
nance reports were recently re-
leased, and they show how much
the trade groups rely on campaign
contributions to help tell their
story. The trade groups generally
do not contribute to presidential
campaigns and instead give their
money to House and Senate
In 2019, CULAC, CUNA’s po-
litical action committee, took in
about $2.85 million in contribu-
tions. And in the non-election
year, the committee made almost
$1.8 million in contributions. Go-
ing into this year, CULAC had al-
most $1.8 million on hand.
NAFCU operates a much
smaller committee, which took in
$200,000 in contributions, while
making $145,000 in contributions.
And going into 2020, NAFCU’s
committee had about $525,000 on
Of course, the battle between
credit unions and banks also
plays out in political giving. The
American Bankers Association
took in some $1.8 million in 2019,
made about $2.2 million in con-
tributions to campaigns and had
$1.977 million on hand at the end
of the year.
The Independent Community
Bankers of America took in more
than $982,000 last year, while con-
tributing $757,000. And going into
the election year, the committee
had almost $425,000 on hand.
The amount the committees
had on hand at the end of the year
is not an indication of how much
the political committees will
spend in this election year.
The committees will continue
to raise money throughout the
year and continue to contribute to
So, if you’re a credit union of-
ficial, expect to be approached by
people with their hands out.
Consider yourself warned.
Whether you agreed with him or
not, you’ve got to admit that Rep.
Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was one of
the stars of the recent impeachment trial of President Trump.
He behaved like the federal
prosecutor he once was – he was
well-spoken and prepared.
Just a few years ago, he gained
prominence in the credit union
community for having written a
letter with Rep. Steve Stivers (
R-Ohio) to former CFPB Director
Richard Cordray, which asked the
then-director to make sure he tailored the agency’s rule to consider
the regulatory burden on community banks and credit unions.
They were joined by more than
300 House members in sending
If Schiff’s name sounded familiar to you even before he
jumped head-first into the impeachment fray, that may be why.
I’m not the biggest fan of social
media. It’s an understatement to
say that people post things without giving them much thought.
And the various social media
tools out there are open invitations to spread phony, inflammatory rumors and downright lies.
People go on rants about demonstrably true stories being
“fake news.” And people post eas-ily-debunked stories while calling
them the absolute truth.
Here’s a modest suggestion –
how about we all agree to check
out the veracity of stories whose
links we post on social media? It
really doesn’t take much work.
And how about this: When we
see a post that is demonstrably
false, we say so and cite the source
that debunks the post?
Yeah, you might be called a few
names if you do it, but so what?
If you’ll bear with me, here’s
an example. A Facebook friend
recently posted a supposed story
about Benghazi. Now, anytime
you read anything about Beng-
hazi, you’d better check it out.
And this one did seem strange.
So, I typed a couple of keywords
into Google. And up popped an
item from the great fact-checking
website “Snopes.” The story had
gained enough traction on social
media that there was a specific
story about it on Snopes.
It didn’t take long to find information that demonstrated the
information was false. And so, I
posted a link to the “Snopes” story
The House Ethics Committee
recently sent a memo to House offices warning members and their
staffs that posting information
they know to be false may violate
the Code of Official Conduct.
Yes, House staff and members
are expected to participate in the
political discussion, the committee said.
“However, manipulation of images and videos that are intended
to mislead the public can harm
that discourse and reflect discreditably on the House,” the committee said, adding, “Members and
staff are expected to take reasonable efforts to consider whether
such representations are deep
fakes or are intentionally distorted
to mislead the public,” the Ethics
Fact-checking websites, such as
Snopes and PolitiFact, were designed to do your job for you.
(Full disclosure: I did some work
for PolitiFact in its early days.).
So, how about we vow that in this
election year, we simply are not going to post things without checking
them out first. And when we see
stories posted that don’t pass the
smell test, we check them out.
Yeah, you’re going to be called
some nasty names by true believers who insist you are doing the
Hopefully, though, you’ve got
thick skin. n
PACs Continue to Give … and Give … and Give
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