WASHINGTON -- CUNA's legislative and political update at the Governmental Affairs Conference last week stressed the importance of being politically active and gave advice on how to get involved.
CUNA Vice President, State Government Affairs Gretchen Drobnyk urged to educate members by writing newsletters, sending statement stuffers about why credit unions are tax-exempt, and hanging posters in the lobby.
Drobnyk also promoted the use of Project Zip Code to identify where members are located in Congress members' districts to "help remind them how many people you represent."
The Credit Union Advocacy Corporation has developed a political online training tool on the CUNA Web site (www.cuna.org) to prepare for meetings with lawmakers. There is also a grassroots action center online that allows visitors to type in their credit union zip code and send pro-credit union stories to lawmakers on the state or federal level.
CUNA Political Director Trey Hawkins stated that 44% of all registered voters are credit union members. He stressed that credit unions educate members of candidate issues by putting out newsletters, starting Get Out the Vote efforts, inviting pro-credit union candidates to visit the credit union, and fundraising and volunteering on campaigns for pro-credit union candidates.
"Politicians care about two things," Hawkins said. "Money and votes."
Hawkins also said that the Credit Union Legislative Action Council is the 11th largest political action committee in the country. At the same time, it has an average donation of less than $26.
Campaign contributions help get credit unions' voice heard on Capitol Hill. CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan provided an update on the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act. In reference to Congress' response to the subprime mortgage crisis, he said, "For us to be heard [by Congress members] our message needs to be loud and clear, we're not a part of the problem but we can be part of the solution."