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Credit unions ramp up election-year spending to record levels

Credit unions have ramped up their election-year spending to record levels, injecting cash into some of the nation’s tightest races.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) said Thursday that it has spent $5.6 million so far this election season and is actively involved in more than 400 bipartisan races.

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"This is the largest effort that CUNA and the leagues have ever deployed on behalf of credit union candidates across the country through contributions, independent expenditures and partisan communications,” said Jim Nussle, CUNA’s president and CEO.

"CUNA and the leagues support candidates running for Congress who support credit unions," he said.

Candidates who have received support include Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa,) all of whom are involved in high-profile races. 

Nussle, a former House member and head of the White House's budget office under President George W. Bush, said that the CUNA's candidate support splits nearly equally by party.

"There are many candidates and members on both sides of the aisle who are friends of credit unions; the bipartisan makeup of our support demonstrates the strengths of the credit union movement," Nussle said.

CUNA and its federal political action committee, CULAC, have used direct mail, television, radio and online advertisements for candidates.

So far, $3 million has been spent on direct PAC contributions, $1.2 million on independent expenditures and $1.4 million on partisan communications, CUNA said.

More than 80 separate pieces of direct mail, resulting in more than 2.1 million individual mailings, have been sent to more than 417,000 credit union members — all of whom are registered voters.

CUNA research shows that credit union endorsements are valuable, with 65 percent of credit union members interested in where their credit union stands on the candidates.