WASHINGTON-President George W. Bush has nominated Iowa State Senator JoAnn Johnson (R) to serve in his administration on the NCUA Board. Johnson will replace current holdover NCUA Board Member Yolanda Wheat, whose term expired in August. At the same time, Bush also announced Dennis Dollar as the permanent chairman to the agency. Johnson’s name was first mentioned in the credit union trade press earlier this year as a potential nominee to the NCUA Board. Johnson has served in the Iowa State Senate since 1994. She is currently the Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee and was chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee from 1996 to 2000. Johnson said that she has been so busy with meetings in her district that she really has not had time to enjoy the news of her NCUA Board nomination. She would have been up for re-election next year but expects to resign her seat before then, upon confirmation by the U.S. Senate. She added that she was not sure whether to expect a delay in the confirmation process because of the terrorist attacks last week or for the Senate to move quickly on the nominations to get them out of the way. Johnson admitted that she was a bit surprised at the timing of the nomination, given the events of two weeks ago. “It shows that the president’s administration is certainly up and running and continuing their business,” she said. Once she is confirmed, Johnson said she plans to relocate quickly, but has not yet begun looking for a Washington-area residence. “Johnson has demonstrated an understanding of credit unions and our issues of importance during her years of service in the Iowa State Senate,” CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica remarked. “We support the President’s decision and look forward to working closely with Ms. Johnson upon her confirmation by the U.S. Senate.” Johnson is a former teacher and farmer. An Iowa native, she is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa. “JoAnn Johnson is a capable leader and distinguished state senator,” NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar said. He added that she will be “an outstanding board member upon confirmation.” No, there was no omission of “acting” in Dollar’s title; after waiting seven months to receive the designation as permanent chairman of the NCUA, it has finally come to fruition. “I’m glad to have this finalized and this enables us to go forward with things that we are already pursuing,” Dollar said. He added, “I have not let the grass grow under my feet.” Dollar is a credit union community favorite, with aims at streamlining the agency budget as well as its processes and providing special emphasis on the expansion and chartering of faith-based credit unions. “Credit unions continue to face a changing and dynamic marketplace. I will seek to maintain the focus we have established at NCUA of facilitating opportunities for regulatory flexibility and empowering these financial institutions to serve individuals from all walks of life, even as we maintain the high standards of safety and soundness long adhered to by America’s credit unions,” Dollar said in an earlier statement. The announcement has been awaiting a background check, Dollar said, of which the Federal Bureau of Investigations has to perform thousands. He made light of the fact his designation took so long by saying that it makes one wonder what exactly is in his background. Dollar’s background is no secret among those in the credit union movement. He has served on the NCUA Board since 1997. Prior to that, from 1992 to 1997, he served as President and CEO of Gulfport VA Federal Credit Union, and was even named CEO of the Year in 1994 by Credit Union Times. Before arriving in Washington, Dollar served two terms in the Mississippi House of Representatives as the state’s youngest representative ever. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi. “Dennis clearly has a vision for the future of credit unions that he will have the opportunity to carry forward over the remainder of his term,” NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker commented. “The fact that all the public board agenda items have been approved by unanimous vote since his becoming acting chair earlier this year is a testament to the Chairman’s political acumen and bipartisan instincts.” “Dollar’s regulatory philosophy is very much in keeping with that of the Bush Administration,” Mica indicated. “During his tenure as an NCUA Board member and more recently as acting chairman, Chairman Dollar has put forward numerous actions designed to empower credit unions toward greater innovation and member service while ensuring their continued safety and soundness.” Dollar said he was taken a bit by surprise when the announcement came because of the current shift in Washington from domestic to international issues since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., but he called it “a positive surprise.” “The White House was evacuated a couple of times last week,” Dollar further noted. He added that he was “honored” that the administration took the time to address nominations at this time and that it was “a wonderful vote of confidence.” While designating Dennis Dollar NCUA Chairman and announcing JoAnn Johnson as the administration’s intended nomination to replace Wheat, one name was obviously missing from the list. That’s OK with Board Member Geoff Bacino, who was given a recess appointment to the board by outgoing President Bill Clinton. Bacino gave two reasons for his unconcerned attitude: “I’m a different type of nomination. I’m a reappointment and a Democrat.” He emphasized that most of the recent nominations, including Johnson’s and Dollar’s, were new nominations or making acting positions permanent. Dollar echoed Bacino’s sentiments. “The fact he was not included in this announcement does not mean he will not be mentioned in a future announcement,” Dollar said. Bacino pointed out that common intelligence in the credit union community is that he will be paired with Johnson’s nomination when it goes for Senate confirmation, which he expects will play out. As a recess appointment, Bacino’s seat on the NCUA Board does not have any holdover provisions. Once Congress adjourns for the year, the seat will be vacant. At least one member of the board must be of the non-presidential party. “Geoff is very tenacious, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him nominated, as his lifelong goal to serve credit unions on the NCUA Board,” Becker said. In related news, President Bush also nominated Shirlee Bown, former NCUA Board member, to the Federal Housing Finance Board. Upon confirmation, she will be designated chairman. Bown is currently president of S. Bown and Company in Tallahassee, Florida and is a member of the board of directors of Florida Central Credit Union. -scooke@cutimes.com