Banking Super PAC Narrows Its Favorites List

A banking super political action committee that independently supports two House or Senate candidates every two years has narrowed its support down to ten candidates.

While Friends of Traditional Banking is an avowed opponent of credit unions, several of the candidates it is supporting also have received campaign contributions from credit union PACs. The Credit Union National Association, which operates a much larger PAC than the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions does, has made larger contributions to several of the candidates.

And according to personal finance reports filed by members of Congress, some even have personal accounts at credit unions.

“Our Advisory Council and Nationwide Banker Board have looked at the closest races in the nation to determine who are the best friends of traditional banking that need help the most,” Friends of Traditional Banking recently said on its website. The group intends to narrow down the number of candidates in the coming weeks.

Super PACs can raise an unlimited amount of money to support candidates they endorse; however, all of the spending must be done independently of candidates’ reelection campaigns.

The credit union industry does not have a Super PAC, but CUNA official said they will, as they have in the past, make independent contributions such as advertising on behalf of candidates they are supporting.  NAFCU had no comment about is political contributions strategy.

“Friends of Traditional Banking is truly a grassroots movement driven by the passion of those who understand just how important traditional banking is to our communities and our local economies,” the group said on its website.

Many of the issues that Friends of Traditional Banking identifies as its key issues also have been cited as key issues for credit union trade groups.

The group has identified the ten finalists for its support. All are incumbents:

  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is locked in a tight race with Maine Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, a Democrat. CUNA’s Political Action Committee has contributed $10,000 to her campaign. And although Friends of Traditional Banking does not like credit unions, Collins is a member of one.
  • Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mt.), whose opponent is Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. CUNA also is supporting Daines, having contributed $10,000 to his campaign.
  • Sen. Jodi Ernst (R-Iowa); Ernst’s opponent is Democrat Theresa Greenfield. CUNA also is supporting Ernst’s campaign, having contributed $10,000 to her reelection effort.
  • Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif), who was elected in a special election to replace former Rep. Katie Hill. His Democratic opponent is California Assemblywoman Christy Smith.
  • Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), whose Democratic opponent is former Gov. John Hickenlooper. Gardner has received $10,000 from CUNA’s PAC. Gardner apparently likes credit unions; he is a member of three of them.
  • Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.); Friends of Traditional Banking touted his support of financial services legislation. Kim’s opponent is Republican David Richter. CUNA has contributed $10,000 to Kim’s reelection effort.
  • Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah), whose Republican opponent is Republican Burgess Owens. McAdams has received $10,000 from CUNA’s PAC and $1,000 from NAFCU’s committee.
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.), who is the Senate’s majority leader. “Regulatory reform would not have happened without his leadership,” the Super PAC said. McConnell is being challenged by Democrat Amy McGrath. CUNA has contributed $10,000 to his campaign.
  • Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who faces a primary election on Aug. 4.. Her likely Democratic opponent is Mark Kelly. Friends of Traditional Banking identifies McSally as a “supportive member” of the Senate Banking Committee. Credit Union trade groups are supporting McSally as well. CUNA has contributed $5,000 to her campaign; NAFCU has contributed $2,000.
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), another Banking Committee member. His Democratic opponent is former State Sen. Cal Cunningham. CUNA has contributed $10,000 to Tillis’s campaign and NAFCU has contributed $2,000.

This story has been updated to reflect the latest CUNA campaign contributions.

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