Those are among the items on the agenda for CUNA at this week's Democratic National Convention in Denver.
CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, the Corporate Credit Union Network and the Credit Union Association of Colorado, working with Homes for Our Troops and other organizations, built a new home for Sgt. Travis Strong, who lost both legs while fighting in Iraq in 2006. Keys to the new home, located in the Denver suburb of Golden, will be given to Strong during the convention, though the date had not been finalized as of press time.
The organizations are doing a similar project, in conjunction with the Minnesota Credit Union Network, during the GOP convention next week in St. Paul. Credit union employees have donated $350,000 to both projects.
CUNA is also sponsoring a party honoring volunteers on the project and a party honoring credit union supporters.
The trade association is also one of four co-sponsors (along with Microsoft, Siemens and the Auto Alliance) of daily briefings with political analysts and strategists that are being organized by National Journal, a Washington-based political magazine.
NAFCU will also have a presence at both conventions but had not announced their plans at press time.
401(k) Debit Cards Carry Fees, SEC Reminds
WASHINGTON -- The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued an alert on the fees and penalties associated with 401(k) debit cards.
A 401(k) debit card allows one to borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of the value of a retirement plan, whichever is less, through use of a debit card, SEC said in a July 29 investor alert.
The SEC said 401(k) debit card users are required to pay fees and interest on amounts borrowed from a 401(k). While some of the interest the user pays goes back into their accounts, a certain amount, called margin, is paid to the card's vendor.
Under IRS rules, if users don't repay the amount borrowed in five years or less and they miss three months of consecutive payments, taxes must be paid on the entire loan balance. Those younger than 59 1/2 years old must also pay a 10% penalty. Repayments of 401(k) debit card loans are not deducted directly from a user's payroll but must come directly from the 401(k) account holder.
Any money borrowed is set side in a money market fund until it is withdrawn. According to SEC, money market funds earn a lower rate of return than other investment options through a 401(k) account.
NCUA Shutters Port Trust
WASHINGTON -- Citing the fact that it had "no prospects for restoring viable operations," the NCUA declared Port Trust Federal Credit Union insolvent.
The 260-member FCU in Charleston, S.C., had two employees and $460,915 in assets. It was chartered in 2006.
According to its latest financial statement, filed with NCUA in June, the credit union's investment income fell 29% during the second quarter and its nonoperating income fell 13.5% in that period. Its share drafts declined 45.3%, and its total equity fell 49.3%.
NCUA, which insures deposits up to at least $100,000 per account and up to $250,000 for certain retirement accounts through NCUSIF, said it would issue checks to members with verified share accounts within a week of the Aug. 5 closing.
Candidate Advisers to Debate Economic Policy
WASHINGTON -- Attendees at NAFCU's Congressional Caucus next month will hear a debate about the proposals for fixing the economy by the two major-party presidential candidates.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, senior policy adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Gary Gensler, senior economic adviser to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), will speak on Monday, Sept. 15, the second day of the four-day event.
Holtz-Eakin is a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and was also the chief economist of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and an economics professor at Syracuse University.
Gensler served as both the undersecretary and as an assistant secretary of the Treasury during the
Clinton administration. He was also a top adviser to Sen. Paul Sarbanes, a former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
"The upcoming presidential election and the economy are of top interest for everyone this year, so we are very pleased to be able to offer caucus attendees the chance to hear the presumptive presidential candidates' economic platforms firsthand," said NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker.
For more information about NAFCU's 34th annual Con-gressional Caucus or to register, visit www.nafcu.org/caucus.
Former Neighbors CU CEO Is Treasurer for Carnahan
WASHINGTON -- Former Neighbors Credit Union President/CEO Larry Giesing is using his knowledge of finance to help a member of Congress.
Giesing is the treasurer for the reelection campaign of U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.).
Carnahan, whose father, mother and sister have all held elective office, represents a district that includes part of St. Louis and its suburbs. He is a co-sponsor of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act, which would provide a range of regulatory relief to credit unions.
Giesing said his experience preparing call reports for NCUA has prepared him well the paperwork required by the Federal Election Commission.
"The rules and regulations are tremendous,'' he said. "You think credit union call reports are detailed, the Federal Election Commission reports are equally detailed. So I'm back in the reporting business.''
Caranhan is being challenged by mortgage broker Christopher Sander, who has served as president of the Missouri Association of Mortgage Brokers.
Baruah Starts at SBA; Awaits Confirmation
WASHINGTON -- Despite not having yet received confirmation from the Senate, Sandy K. Baruah started his first day at the helm of the Small Business Administration on Aug. 18, the agency said.
On June 26, Baruah was nominated by President Bush to become SBA's next administrator. He would succeed Steve Preston who left the agency to become secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Preston was sworn in at HUD on June 5. Baruah is currently assistant secretary for Economic Development at the Department of Commerce.
Since Preston's departure, SBA Deputy Administrator Jovita Carranza had been serving as acting administrator.
"I look forward to working with Deputy Administrator Jovita Carranza, who has ably carried on the agency's work with SBA's great team of professional staff," Baruah said. "I intend to help SBA carry on its mission as it navigates the height of hurricane season and deals with the current economic challenges and tightening credit opportunities for small business."
Carranza said, "We're very pleased to have a leader of Sandy's caliber joining our team and look forward to working with him. There's a great deal we still want to accomplish between now and January."
Rivermark Community Reaches $400 Million
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Rivermark Community Credit Union is celebrating reaching $400 million in assets.
Rivermark Community CU President/CEO Scott Burgess attributed this achievement to innovative financial services, resulting in new-member growth and increased service usage from its existing 45,000 members. As of July 31, over 4,000 new members joined the credit union in 2008.
Rivermark attracted new members by offering one of the area's highest rates on rewards checking and savings accounts. In addition to paying a high rate, rewards checking also refunds ATM fees nationwide when members meet certain monthly account requirements. Since introducing the new service in June 2007, the credit union has rewarded members by paying over $1 million in dividends and refunding over $100,000 in ATM fees.