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AALU: Financial politics in action

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A couple of slow international news days made our attendance at this year’s AALU annual meeting in Washington D.C. (we are being ironic here) all the more interesting, and poignant.

The conference, an annual opportunity for the cream of the insurance and financial planning industry to make some direct contacts with those in the congressional arena, usually offers its own form of political drama; the news early Monday morning of the long-awaited eradication of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden served to considerably change the tone here in the nation’s capital.

Especially as former President George W. Bush was the meeting’s highest profile speaker, capping a list that also included appearances by comedian and media personality Dennis Miller, CNBC’s Ron Insana, author Steven Levitt and former New Mexico Governor and presidential candidate Bill Richardson.

Tuesday’s schedule saw the event turn toward its key mission, a series of “town hall”-styled meetings with congressional leaders. Called the “Capital Hill Club,” AALU’s concisely focused political efforts will see approximately 600 attendees boarding buses and heading to The Hill to meet with elected officials and try to spread an industry positive message.

David Byers, head of the AALU’s board of directors, explained that the organization’s hope is to be seen and heard at a level equivalent to the NRA or the AARP, with a focus distinctively on protecting and cultivating the interests of the insurance industry.

To that end, more than $2.1 million in contributions were made to the AALU’s political programs last year; this week’s event will see one-on-one meetings with the 150 members of congress who’ve been identified as having the most influence on legislation directly affecting our business.