WASHINGTON-When lobbying for bankruptcy reform legislation last congressional session, CUNA turned to Fierce & Isakowitz for a little assistance in pushing the bill over the top. CUNA's work with Fierce & Isakowitz, one of Washington, D.C.'s top lobbying firms, on bankruptcy reform was recently highlighted in the column "The Persuaders" in a Fortune Magazine column by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum. The column characterized CUNA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs John McKechnie as watching "helplessly" as the bankruptcy reform bill languished in the House in November 2002. McKechnie went out with some congressional staffers the night the bill seemed to be slipping away. At nearly midnight, however, F&I Lobbyist Samantha Poole received a call at her home from Congressman Roy Blunt's (R-Mo.) chief of staff who said the bill was modified and would be going to the floor for a vote. Poole, in turn, called McKechnie at his Bethesda, Md. home, and together they contacted as many undecideds as possible. The bill passed the House around 2 a.m. It was the final vote last Congress. "That's the essence of lobbying," McKechnie said. "When the key decisions are made, you're there in the room." Though the $20,000 monthly retainer for new clients may sound pricey, the columnist concluded that they were well worth the cost to their clients. CUNA Vice President of Communications and Media Outreach Pat Keefe said that CUNA does not pay that much for their services, but the "exact amount is confidential."

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