DOs and DON’Ts for campaign electioneering

Avoiding pitfalls of being involved in the political process

The federal mid-term elections are virtually upon us, which brings to mind the constraints that are placed on credit unions concerning their participation in our democratic election process.

Certainly, credit unions have a significant interest in election outcomes. Legislative positions are championed and opposed through elected representatives.

Therefore, it is critical to understand how credit unions can participate in the political process—that is, what actions can be taken and those actions that are prohibited. The Federal Election Campaign Act, implemented through rules established by the Federal Election Commission, establishes the metes and bounds of credit union participation in the election process. Within the bounds of the law, a credit union’s board of directors should establish a policy about the institution’s participation. In addition, an institution should confer with legal counsel who has expertise in such matters before taking any action.

Nonetheless, some general observations can be made concerning political activities undertaken by credit unions. Above all, the guiding principle is that federal credit unions are prohibited from making campaign contributions or expenditures on behalf of federal, state or local office candidates. Notably, the rules for state-chartered institutions are less onerous.


continue reading »