BILLINGS, Mont. – CUNA said this morning it has begun a direct mailing campaign touting Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, the leader of the effort to repeal the Durbin Amendment cap on debit fees who is in a close race for reelection with the state’s lone House member, Republican Denny Rehberg.

The Tester initiative is one of two direct mailings to credit union members costing $200,000 that CUNA has begun in recent days and is among $1 million the credit union group plans to spend outside of traditional campaign contributions in the closing days of this year’s elections, according to Trey Hawkins, campaign director for CUNA.

“The important thing for us is we want to make sure we’re there for someone who’s stood up and been there for credit unions,” Hawkins said of Tester, who led last year’s unsuccessful effort to repeal the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act, which required the Federal Reserve to cap interchange fees on debit transactions.

CUNA has also begun a separate mailing on behalf of Rep. Larry Kissell, the North Carolina Democrat who has backed the bills to lift the member business loan limit, to allow credit unions to raise supplementary capital and repeal the Durbin Amendment.

The mailings on behalf of the two credit union allies are positive and stress the good things each lawmaker has done-in contrast to the negative ads flooding the airwaves and mailboxes in the days leading to the elections, according to Hawkins. “Our research shows that as many as 65% of credit union members tell us they are more likely to vote for a candidate if their credit union tells them to,” he told the Credit Union Journal.

CUNA has also spent more than $700,000 in recent days on independent expenditures supporting Democrat Christy Vilsack in Iowa; Republican Tom Latham in Iowa; Republican Christopher Collins in New York and Democrat Dan Maffei in New York.

The difference between partisan communications and independent expenditures is that CUNA may coordinate the partisan communications with the candidates, while independent expenditures must be independent and non-coordinated.

CUNA is expected to spend almost $5 million on campaign spending initiatives during the soon-to-be completed two-year campaign cycle.


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