House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) served as CUNA’s VIP guest when the trade association unveiled its Democratic National Convention leave behind project Sept. 5 during a ribbon-cutting celebration. The project converted an existing rooftop space on Levine Children’s Hospital’s 12th floor into a outdoor play space, adding a deck and pavilion, outdoor play equipment and environmental improvements.
Clyburn noted the importance of credit unions leaving convention communities better off than they found them. The industry completed a similar project in Tampa, Fla., last week in conjunction with the Republican National Convention.
“Congratulations to you for doing this,” he added.
The Democratic Convention Host Committee and the National Journal Group joined CUNA in sponsoring the event. The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation spearheaded the fundraising effort for the project, raising $300,000 for the upgrade. CUNA Mutual Group and CO-OP Financial Services also provided financial support.
CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said that CUNA has sponsored leave behind projects at each national party convention since 2000.
“These projects leave behind something positive that will continue to benefit the Charlotte and Tampa communities long after the balloons have dropped and the convention ended,” he said.
CUNA also hosted between 250 and 300 DNC delegates and more than a dozen federal lawmakers that same day at a local Charlotte restaurant, providing delegates, lawmakers and credit union leaders an opportunity to mingle, discuss convention events and credit union issues, and nosh on munchies before returning to Time Warner Cable Arena to see former President Bill Clinton’s speech.
A third event was also sponsored by the trade Sept. 5. The National Journal’s Convention Daily Briefings, which featured DNC newsmakers as it did in Tampa for the RNC, was co-sponsored by CUNA.
The session featured Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who discussed Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s budget plan and how Van Hollen thinks it has helped Democrats in House races across the county. The executive directors of both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also spoke. The event ended with The Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy and David Wasserman.
Trey Hawkins, CUNA vice president of political affairs, said participation in the national conventions overall is “an opportunity to continue to develop our political brand.”
NAFCU took a low-key approach to the DNC compared to its rival, sending only Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler to represent the organization. Thaler attended a Sept. 5 policy discussion on deficit reduction between Politico’s Mike Allen and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). Thaler also attended other events, including one honoring moderate Democrats in the Senate.
The NAFCU lobbyist said credit unions were well-represented at the DNC, adding that most of the attendees he met were credit union members who “appreciate the good work credit unions do.”
Director of Political Affairs Katie Marisic said Thaler and NAFCU representatives that attended the RNC went out of their way to meet with the right people, such as congressional members in key districts.
“We attend lots of events, getting out there and making sure the voices of NAFCU members and credit unions are being heard,” she said, noting that member business lending, tax exemption and ATM legislation were the trade association’s top priorities for conversation topics. There are advantages to meeting with members of Congress in the relaxed atmosphere of party conventions, Marisic said. The events give lobbyists an opportunity to “touch base one final time before them come back to Washington."