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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Where is the industry’s “passion” might have been the theme for CUNA Chairman David Maus’ keynote speech to the annual convention of the Arizona Credit Union League here. The banking industry, observed Maus, is “on the attack and wants us to fail” and yet do credit unions have the drive and/or willpower to make their voice heard in Congress and in statehouses as powerfully as banks have done over recent years? Discussing the Renaissance Commission report issued June 21 in Madison, Wis., the CUNA chairman, who also is president and CEO of Public Service Credit Union of Denver, appealed to CU managers to improve their individual lobbying efforts with lawmakers. Because a failure to do so, he said, lets the banking industry win in its program “to put us out of business.” Maus said in two related areas-salaries and political contributions-CU executives are at a disadvantage. On salaries, studies show top CU managers make “15 to 20% less” than their banking counterparts, and bankers “out-contribute us 20 to 1″ for political action. Smiling, the Denver CEO suggested Arizona CU executives might want to go to their boards and he urged an increase, and likewise board members attending the convention might want to help out their CEO. “Or pay your board member more” he joked, so that he might make higher PAC contributions, Maus added. On a more serious note, Maus while lauding what he described as outstanding contributions from the industry to the Renaissance Commission document, he urged CUs to become more “pro-active” in political action. Recalling the fight over H.R. 1151 two years ago, he said the CUNA staff earned the very highest grades for its performance in Congress, but CUs as whole “get a D” or an “incomplete” because many were not as involved in the political process as they should have been. “It was not a clear victory” for the industry,” he said. Therefore, CUs’ attitudes must change, he implored, particularly on many of the political programs pushed by “Key Contact and “Deduct a Buck,” to name a few. Reviewing the Renaissance Commission report, Maus said the initial statements in the document are a “wish list” or a “vision for credit unions” in such areas as field-of-membership, regulation and new powers. The more “specific” suggestions in the report will be reviewed first by CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Committee at a meeting “in mid-July” with final action considered by the full CUNA Board at CUNA’s annual meeting Sept. 24 in San Francisco. Maus said there is a reluctance to release the specific list of recommendations on the Web site because “we open up to the competition”-namely banks-to see the industry’s legislative strategy. He said it is “no surprise” that banks have already taken issue with the report and are “negative” on it. The banking industry, he said, “will attack us no matter what we do.” But that is irrelevant considering “what drives us is our mission to serve the needs of our members.” That must remain the ultimate goal, said Maus. -

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