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ARLINGTON, Va.-After 25 years at NAFCU-and fathering seven children in that time-one would think business associates would have a lot to say about NAFCU Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bill Donovan. Not Rick Maurano, a long-time Capitol Hill staffer who is now a lobbyist for Fannie Mae. At a roast in honor of Donovan’s 25th anniversary at NAFCU, Maurano-who knew Bill Donovan from high school-noted how the news is typically full of stories of politicians and lobbyists caught in scandals, but not Bill Donovan. Maurano concluded that he must lead a pretty boring life. With three children in college and four to go, Donovan’s life does not sound that boring-nor does it sound like he has any plans of retiring soon. His life in credit unions has not been boring in the least. The role of credit unions in the marketplace over the last 25 years has “expanded significantly,” Donovan noted. On May 21, 1979, when he became NAFCU’s only lobbyist, Donovan was thrown into a maelstrom of lawsuits and legislation. The American Bankers Association was suing NCUA over allowing credit unions to provide share draft accounts, an appeals court ruled ATMs were not permissible for banks, and savings associations were not permitted remote teller units. All three cases were consolidated and sent to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear them, Donovan recalled. The appellate courts had ruled against the financial institutions each time so they all approached Capitol Hill about changing the laws. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed financial institutions deregulation legislation into law, which also increased deposit insurance coverage from $40,000 to $100,000 and credit unions’ usury ceiling from 12% to 15%. Donovan said the signing ceremony for this legislation was his first trip to the White House. A few days later he was back for the signing of the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act, because Donovan and others in the credit union community had lobbied hard to get expanded tax incentives for savers inserted into the bill. “NAFCU has always been an organization committed to savings,” he said. Then, in 1982, the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act, which expanded credit union powers, was signed into law. In 1984, Donovan was involved in lobbying to create a commemorative postage stamp for the 50th anniversary of the Federal Credit Union Act. Also 1984 was the year the share insurance fund was recapitalized and the savings and loan crisis continued to wage on. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan had proposed taxing credit unions, but Donovan and others rallied to defeat that effort quickly. In 1989, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act was passed, which was followed two years later by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act. Then, most recently, there was the Credit Union Membership Access Act in 1998, which expanded credit unions’ membership capabilities after they lost the AT&T lawsuit in the Supreme Court. “The issues of the late 80s to early 90s were particularly serious because of the context in which they arose,” Donovan said, referring again to the S&L crisis. Credit unions survived “pretty much in tact,” he said. Though the threats now may not seem as life threatening to credit unions as in the past, they are still huge issues. “In any period threats against credit unions have to be taken seriously. That’s the lesson learned over the last 25 years, that a threat to the credit union movement, no matter how distant it seems, shouldn’t be allowed to go unchecked,” Donovan said. Right now, the banks are working diligently to get credit unions taxed. “I believe that some within the banking community are very committed to pursuing efforts to tax credit unions,” Donovan said. Others are not interested at all. “If the bank lobby wants to continue pushing that boulder uphill, that’s their choice,” he remarked. In his past and current dealings on the Hill, Donovan has gotten to know several influential people. Congressman Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, could not make Donovan’s roast but had a statement inserted into the Congressional Record in honor of Donovan’s anniversary. “In his 25 years of service to NAFCU, Mr. Donovan has been a tireless advocate and a leading voice for the credit union community on Capitol Hill,” the lawmaker said. Fellow Financial Services Committee Member Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), father of the CUMAA and current leading Democratic sponsor of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 3579), sent some prepared remarks to Donovan. “Even before the U.S. Supreme Court reached its decision on National Credit Union Administration v. First National Bank & Trust, Bill was amongst the first people to foresee how this legal battle could create uncertainty for the credit union movement in the long term,” it read. “He also helped to convince me of the need to introduce a proactive bill to preserve and protect the federal credit union charter, even before the Supreme Court decided this case. Without question, Bill’s anticipatory and progressive advocacy in these matters helped smooth the way for the swift passage of this historic law.” He continued, “In politics, I have increasingly come to value one trait rarely found in Washington – loyalty.Bill Donovan personifies loyalty.” Former NAFCU President and CEO Ken Robinson was also unable to attend the event but sent Donovan a letter, which outlined some of his accomplishments. “On a personal basis, I must say that during my sixteen years as NAFCU’s CEO whatever success I enjoyed with individual members of Congress, governors of the Federal Reserve Board, White House staff or other governmental officials those contacts always started with an introduction by you,” he said. Commenting on his time investment in credit unions, Donovan said he admires their philosophy of “putting people first” and looking to improve the financial situations of people in their communities. He added that he “grew up in a family where credit union membership was important.” He opened his first credit union account as a juvenile at The People’s Credit Union in Newport, R.I., where he still maintains an account. Of his longevity at NAFCU, Donovan said, “NAFCU is an extraordinary organization that has given me unique opportunities to influence public policy for the better over a period of many years.” When he started at NAFCU in 1979, he was the only lobbyist out of 14 employees. Now he has 17 working under him and NAFCU has grown to more than 65 employees. Prior to Joining NAFCU, Donovan was in government relations at the Kellogg Company and the U.S. League of Savings Associations (now America’s Community Bankers). He earned an undergraduate degree from the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. Additionally, he has earned advanced degrees from Catholic University of America in law and theology. He has also earned a masters degree in business administration from George Mason University. Donovan and his wife, Donna, live in Arlington, Va. [email protected]

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