WASHINGTON — Callahan & Associates Chairman Chip Filson launched a public campaign Monday to change the process by which NCUA Board members are nominated, and realign the NCUA’s strategies with cooperative principles.
Filson made the announcement during a standing-room-only press event during the opening morning of CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington.
Filson’s campaign, which leverages the White House’spetition program, aims to influence the Obama Administration into making the NCUA Board appointment process public. If the petition receives more than 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the administration is required to respond.
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Filson, a Republican, also tossed his own hat into the ring Monday, publicly announcing his desire to serve on the NCUA Board. The board currently has one open position, left vacant when Democrat Gigi Hyland resigned in October 2012 after serving past her term’s August 2011 expiration.
The NCUA Board will require a second appointment this summer to replace Board Member Michael Fryzel, a Republican, when his term expires in August. The NCUA must have members from both political parties; Chairman Debbie Matz is a Democrat.
To achieve the 100,000 signature threshold, Filson told Credit Union Times he will ask credit unions to share the grassroots effort with staff and credit union members.
“The beauty of the petition is that it gives everyone, all stakeholders, a chance to participate in the process,” he said.
A public campaign reverses the current nomination process, in which the White House appoints board members after a closed-door vetting. Changing the process, Filson said, is the first effort in aligning the board selection process with cooperative principles.
“Cooperatives work because they are citizens stepping forward. While some might say reform is the responsibility of Congress, the administration or a presidential appointee, it’s critical to always keep in mind that ‘we the people’ are the government,” he said. “Volunteers stepping forward created every facet of our system – credit unions, the leagues and trade associations, and most of our service providers. It follows that the design of credit unions for the next 100 years should include a regulatory body in which credit union members, volunteers and professionals have a public voice.”
Despite his desire to serve on the NCUA Board, Filson said the initiative isn’t about him. Even if his petition fails to attract 100,000 signatures, Filson said he will continue to issue statements and promote his cooperative NCUA vision.
“There’s no point in having this open petition process if everybody continues to (appoint board members) the old fashioned way,” he said. “If others aspire to leadership at the NCUA, they should publicly say so. In that way, we could already change the expectations people have about how responsive the NCUA could be.”