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SEATTLE-With know-how and constituents, NAFCU is able to make its presence known on Capitol Hill and prove this town is big enough for both CUNA and NAFCU. While CUNA boasts that it represents more than 90% of all credit unions and NAFCU works for just 14% of federal credit unions, NAFCU does represent 55% of federal credit union members and 67% of federal credit union assets. NAFCU has achieved many successes following a common sense, effective path. First, political activity must be proactive early on at the grassroots level, according to NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler. He also said that strong, targeted messages must be carried through the entire process, from idea to bill to law. And it’s key to maintain communication from grassroots (credit union members) to “grasstops” (CEOs). He gave the example of the regulatory relief bill currently in the House. NAFCU was discussing several of the issues that made it into the legislation with lawmakers and their staff as part of its effort to enhance the federal charter. The amendment exempting credit unions from Hart-Scott-Rodino pre-merger requirements came from a NAFCU member credit union. NAFCU made key lawmakers aware of the problem and provided House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner with a letter from a constituent credit union. Judiciary Committee Member and Financial Institutions Subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama), who introduced the amendment, was also provided with a letter from a credit union in his home state. Thaler explained that not only did this help convince the congressmen to support the issue, but it also provided them with an explanation of why they supported it: because their constituents were interested. He pointed out that Bachus has not been particularly friendly to credit unions in the past, having voted against H.R. 1151. “In politics, the person who’s voting against you one day, could be your strongest advocate the next day,” Thaler commented. Bachus’ former position also makes him appear more objective, he added. Credit unions can become more politically involved by attending and giving to local and national events and political organizations, Thaler suggested. Employees, board members, and credit union members could also volunteer to provide supplies or staffing for an event. Additionally, a credit union could host its own event. [email protected]

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