If you want to know why credit unions wield such remarkable sway in Washington, D.C., look no further than CUNA’s political activity this year.
Raising and committing nearly $6 million for Senate and congressional campaigns across the country, CUNA’s political action committee—the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC)—and the National Advocacy Fund invested more than the Independent Community Bankers of America and the American Bankers Association combined.
What’s more, CULAC has earned the honor of being the most bipartisan political action committee in the financial services industry, this year contributing roughly 51% of funds to Republican candidates and 49% to Democratic candidates.
This election season, nearly three dozen credit unions joined CUNA and six leagues in partisan communication campaigns. We sent more than 1.1 million mailers to more than 200,000 households with registered credit union member-voters touting the benefits of electing credit union-backed candidates.
What an astounding effort by credit unions to have the foresight to participate in such an important piece of our 360-degree advocacy work. My sincere thanks go to the leagues and all the credit unions who got involved.
Now, you must be wondering: How did we fare? Just what has this fantastic effort earned us?
How about winning a whopping 96% of the 364 races in which we participated?
That total includes six out of eight victories in very tough races where we collaborated with the leagues to make independent expenditures in support of staunch credit union champions.
That success means, through your contributions and through your decision to support the entire credit union industry, we will have a credit union-friendly majority in both the House and Senate when the 115th Congress takes office next year.
It means that when critical conversations about the credit union tax status surface, we will have helped elect members of Congress who understand and are able to convey to their colleagues the vital role not-for-profit credit unions play in their communities.
It means that when pieces of legislation that ease regulatory burden on credit unions come up for a vote, we will have helped elect members of Congress who know that, by supporting the law, they will be supporting the middle class.
And it means that when Congress debates data security legislation, we will have elected members of Congress who know the importance of holding merchants and retailers to the same strict standards imposed on us.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Credit unions, in the shadow of far larger bank advocacy efforts, occupy some of the most valuable political territory in Washington, D.C. And it’s all thanks to you.
Take pride in this work, but don’t get complacent.
You’ve earned the opportunity to feel good about the state of credit union advocacy. But there’s much work left to do. There’s work we all must do.
Members of Congress, those who are new and those who were re-elected, will be bombarded by opposing views.
We must work together to communicate the issues of importance to the credit union movement.
We must travel to Washington, D.C., for events such as the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference and your league Hike the Hill visits, to put in valuable face time with our representatives and to ensure they understand the credit union difference.
We can’t rest on our laurels. But, for now, we can feel great about positioning ourselves for a fantastic year in 2017.
We can feel great about the future of the credit union industry.
If we can replicate efforts like those that led to this highly successful campaign season, I assure you it will be a bright future indeed.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of CUNA.
This article appears in the December issue of Credit Union Magazine. To read additional exclusive content, subscribers can visit our digital edition and access our app. Not a subscriber? Sign up today.