Influence Peddler of the Month – Wisconsin Credit Union League

October 1, 2019

This trade association, which represents about 130 Wisconsin credit unions, was among the top 10 lobby group spenders during the first six months of the year, doling out more than $200,000.

So what were they up to?

The group spent about $206,000 on seven lobbyists who spent much of their time on a proposed administrative rule affecting credit union member business loans, legislative bills that would revise state laws that regulate hemp growing in Wisconsin, and tracking the proposed 2019-21 state budget for policy proposals that affect credit unions.

The league’s $206,000 in lobby spending during the first six months of 2019 was about $40,000 more than the total amount spent on lobbying during the previous two years in 2017-18.

In a little over 10 years between January 2010 and June 2019, the group spent nearly $1.4 million on lobbying at the State Capitol. Fourteen legislative proposals supported by the association were signed into law, including:

2017 Act 94, which requires public schools to teach financial literacy;

2017 Act 72, which allows financial institutions to hand out prizes during savings promotion programs;

2015 Act 54, which relaxes regulations on state-chartered banks by allowing them to offer lower, discounted initial rates on variable rate loans;

2013 Act 22, which expands the services that may be offered by bank service corporations and credit union service organizations;

2011 Act 136, which sped up the foreclosure process for abandoned properties;

2011 Act 1, which created health savings accounts.

In addition to being a lobbying group, the league, which was founded in 1934, also operates a political action committee and a conduit. Between January 2011 and July 2018, the individual contributions through the conduit and PAC contributions totaled about $384,200.

And like other savvy special interest groups, the association targeted its contributions to power. Most of the group’s conduit and PAC contributions went to Republicans, who controlled the governor’s office and legislature from 2011 through 2018. Republican candidates and fundraising committees received $282,400, or 74 percent from the PAC conduit, compared to $101,773, or 26 percent, that Democrats accepted.

The top recipients of contributions by the group were former GOP Gov. Scott Walker and the four legislative campaign committees controlled by GOP and Democratic leaders to raise money to spend on elections. The top recipients of the group PAC and conduit contributions between January 2011 and July 2018 were:

Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, about $57,000

Walker, $30,775

Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, about $28,900

Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, about $28,300

State Senate Democratic Committee, about $19,650

Unlike other special interest groups, the association has not directly engaged in outside electioneering activities by making independent expenditures or sponsoring phony issue ads in legislative and statewide races.