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CUs positioned well for 2009 Congress says Magill

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WASHINGTON (11/6/08)—Legislative experts at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) said Wednesday that credit unions can feel good about how they are positioned politically going into the next session of Congress. “Going into the 2008 federal elections, credit unions have been seen by lawmakers and government officials as being part of the solution to the country’s economic woes, not part of the problem that created the mortgage and credit crisis,” said John Magill Wednesday. Magill is CUNA senior vice president of legislative affairs. “I feel very good about where we are positioned going into the 111th Congress in January.” Magill said that perhaps the biggest political challenge credit unions face from the beginning is the overwhelming nature of the economic problems that must be dealt with. “We will have to make enough noise to keep credit union issues on the front burner. We will have to be vigilant to make sure we are dealt with uniquely and not painted with the same brush as the bad actors,” he said. “The new Congress is already talking about regulation rather than deregulation. So we will have to make sure our new friends in Congress don’t kill us with kindness with regulatory efforts,” Magill added.

CUNA hones its political clout

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WASHINGTON (11/6/08)—The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) flexed its ever-growing political muscles during the 2008 federal election cycle. For instance, CUNA participated in 359 of the 435 races in the U.S. House of Representatives and logged a greater than 90% success rate with its chosen candidates, reported its political affairs department Wednesday. CUNA also pushed the envelope a little further this cycle, according to CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose, by its first-time effort to unseat an incumbent in favor of a more credit union –friendly candidate. CUNA launched one of its two independent expenditure (IE) campaigns in support of Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins (R), who was challenging Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.). Jenkins, a long-time credit union advocate, unseated Boyda in Tuesday’s election. Federal regulations dictate that IEs must be made independently, with no coordination between the group and the candidates' campaign camps. The money is used for such things as independent advertising and mailings in support of a candidate. CUNA also backed the unsuccessful bid of Democratic State Rep. Judy Baker against banker and former State Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer (R), an important race for credit union involvement, noted Gose. “We don’t look at the labels Republican or Democrat when we offer support in a race,” Gose pointed out Wednesday. “We are always looking for candidates whose vision includes a strong and viable place for credit unions in the future.” “We are not a Republican organization. We are not a Democratic organization. We are a credit union organization. We keep that always foremost in our minds and we are always working to be balanced,” Gose said. CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs John Magill added that CUNA’s ability to offer such strong support—especially in the form of IEs—speaks volumes on Capitol Hill to the benefit of the credit union system. “CUNA’s ability to do IEs tells lawmakers that credit unions are playing with the adults when it comes to political activism.” CUNA, state leagues and credit unions have been carefully watching results in the races involving credit union supporters and co-sponsors of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA, H.R. 1537). See related story for results of House and Senate races of key interest to credit unions: "Election results of key CU interest."

Election results of key CU interest

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WASHINGTON (11/6/08)—The Credit Union National Association (CUNA), state leagues and credit unions were active in a large number of federal election campaigns in the 2008 cycle with good results for credit union friendly candidates, according to CUNA Political Director Trey Hawkins. Credit union forces provided contributions, campaign support, and foot soldiers to knock on doors and assist on phone banks for candidates of their choice. For instance, the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) for the first time endorsed a candidate, Republican Erik Paulsen, who won Minnesota's only open seat. Paulsen’s strongest opponent in the race considered a plan to remove the credit union tax exemption to fund small business health insurance benefits. Through MnCUN and credit union efforts, according to the league’s Mara Humphry, Paulsen was the beneficiary of door-knocking, literature-distributing volunteers, as well as favorable articles in newsletters sent by credit unions to their members. A similar effort was launched by the Pennsylvania Credit Union
Click to view larger imageOne of the direct mail advertisements credit unions sent to member households in support of Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.). Click for larger view
Association (PCUA), to support the threatened seat of Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a democrat and primary sponsor of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA, H.R. 1537). (See News Now, Nov, 5, “CURIA sponsor Kanjorski prevails in reelection bid”) PCUA President James McCormack said Wednesday that at least 70 credit union volunteers helped Kanjorski in his fight to retain his House seat. Also, CUNA worked with the Pennsylvania league and five credit unions to send direct-mail pieces to 18,000 member households containing 24,000 voters. CUNA, state leagues and credit unions also have been carefully watching results in the races involving credit union supporters and co-sponsors of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA, H.R. 1537). Some results of key interest in the Senate:
* Two co-sponsors of the Senate’s CURIA who were up for re-election won their races: Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.); * In Colorado, Rep. Mark Udall (D), a House CURIA co-sponsor, won his race for an open Senate seat against former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R); and * Rep. Steve Pearce, a New Mexico Republican and House CURIA co-sponsor, running for an open Senate seat, lost to Rep. Tom Udall (D).
In addition to Kanjorski’s and Paulson’s House victories, other races of interest include:
* State Rep. Judy Baker (D-Mo.), lost her bid against banker and former State Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer (R), for an open seat; * Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins (R), a long-time credit union advocate, won against Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.); * Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.), a CURIA co-sponsor, was defeated by Michigan State Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters (D); * Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), a CURIA co-sponsor and key player in passage of H.R. 1151, lost to State Rep Steve Driehaus (D); * Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.), a freshman House member and CURIA co-sponsor, won against businessman Chris Hackett (R); and * Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.), a CURIA co-sponsor, lost against State Sen. Dina Titus (D).
See related News Now stories: “CUNA hones its political clout” and “CUs positioned well for 2009 Congress, says Magill.”

In iRoll Calli Mica says sunshine great for CUs

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WASHINGTON (11/6/08)—President-elect Barack Obama’s intention to bring sunshine to lobbying efforts is great news for credit unions, according to Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica. Mica, featured in a Nov. 5 post-election article in Roll Call, noted, “The Obama camp has had study groups working all summer long on changes they would make on how advocacy would take place in this town. “They’re talking about having complete and total transparency in advocacy.” That, the CUNA leader said, would give a great boost to credit union advocacy efforts. Mica called the Obama plan “tremendous.” “That is a boon to the credit union system. We don’t have the money that some of our adversaries have. If it is fully transparent,” Mica said, “we’ll go toe to toe with anybody.” Roll Call is a widely read publication covering Capitol Hill.

Inside Washington (11/05/2008)

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*WASHINGTON (11/6/08)—The House Financial Services Committee announced Wednesday that it will conduct a hearing entitled “Private Sector Cooperation with Mortgage Modifications-Ensuring That Investors, Servicers and Lenders Provide Real Help for Troubled Homeowners.” Witnesses have not yet been announced for the Nov. 12 session… * WASHINGTON (11/6/08)--The next president of the U.S., president-elect Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will have a long to-do list when it comes to the financial markets, and he will have to act quickly, according to observers (American Banker Nov. 5). The largest task will involve rewriting the financial regulatory system. Other challenges include eliminating the government from banking in the private sector, deciding the fate of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, focusing on foreclosure mitigation, and dealing with the Treasury’s $700 billion rescue plan. If funds are left over from the rescue plan, the president would have to decide how that money should be spent. Observers also expect that the president would have to solve accounting problems. Many in the financial industry have complained that fair-value accounting has been a large contributing factor in the financial crisis ... * WASHINGTON (11/6/08)--Critics claim that a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) plan that would guarantee bank debt is too punitive, narrow and costly for institutions that do not participate. The agency received about 50 letters from banks saying that the 75-basis-point charge for covering debt that is unsecured is too high (American Banker Nov. 5). The agency announced in October that it would guarantee the debt and back non-interest-bearing deposits to help credit markets. The interim rule was released Oct. 23 and provided information for participating institutions, including an opt-out until Nov. 14. Banks argued the timeframe was too short, so the FDIC said Monday it would allow banks to opt out until Dec. 5 ...

CURIA sponsor Kanjorski prevails in reelection bid

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Click to view larger image CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose (right) discusses with Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) the elections during Gose's visit to Kanjorski's campaign in his district in Pennsylvania two weeks ago. Gose spoke to credit unions about Kanjorski, a long-time credit union champion. It was the third trip CUNA staff have made to the district during the campaign. (Photo provided by Penn. Credit Union Association)
WASHINGTON (11/5/08)--In one of the most closely watched races by credit unions, the efforts of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) and credit unions from around the country helped push credit union champion Paul Kanjorski's (D-Pa.) reelection bid over the finish line last night. The 12-term congressman was in an extremely tight race against challenger Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, Pa. Kanjorski garnered 52% of voters in Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. Kanjorski is a staunch supporter of credit union legislative initiatives in Washington. He was the original sponsor of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA, H.R. 1537), the Credit Union Membership Access Act (H.R. 1151) and the Credit Union, Bank and Thrift Regulatory Relief Act (CUBTRRA, H.R. 5519). Kanjorski also chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises. Check News Now for further coverage of election results on races of key interest to credit unions.