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WASHINGTON – CUNA Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs John McKechnie wrote an op-ed published in the July 30 American Banker slamming the banking industry for bribing banks and employees to attack credit unions. “The campaign is not in favor of anything,” he pointed out. “It is not for increased powers for banks, decreased taxes for smaller banks, or an equal playing field. It is purely a negative campaign against credit unions’ attempts to preserve a place in the financial services world by offering a fuller array of services. “And as we watch the bankers’ tactics degrade into bounty hunting and buying testimonials, our reaction borders on alarm.” The piece, “Credit Unions Don’t Buy Support,” railed against the American Bankers Association for their $1,000-prize photo competition to demonstrate credit unions overstepping their boundaries or their decadent facilities. “Does a photo show the hard work, volunteer efforts, and community spirit that can be wrapped up in any exterior?” McKechnie wrote. “Isn’t it misleading to imply a credit union’s location means the credit union isn’t dedicated to its mission statement? Frankly, we are appalled by the bankers’ throwing money around this way.” He also lambasted one bank that is offering prizes to get employees to write Congress in opposition to the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 3579). “Does paying people to parrot a position really add to an honest and open discussion? Or does it stack the numbers?” he asked. McKechnie said the very need to offer prizes to garner support “speaks volumes about the differences between commercial banks and credit unions. If commercial banks stopped looking for ways to rain down new fees on customers and backed away from the megamerger mania that knocks out any local bank’s presence in communities, perhaps they would experience the kind of loyalty credit unions receive – a loyalty money can’t buy.” He pointed out that CUNA regularly seeks members’ support, and gets it, without prize money. “When we present a petition, lawmakers can be assured that those who signed it did so because they believe in their credit union, not because they won a trip to Hawaii,” McKechnie stated. “Credit union employees and members will do voluntarily what the bankers seem to have to pay to get done.” As far as banks’ complaints against the credit unions tax exemption, he wrote, “Fair treatment does not always mean identical treatment.” In conclusion, McKechnie wrote, “Congress can expect a vigorous debate on the issues surrounding credit unions and their 85 million members. Constituents on all sides will surely weigh in. I can promise this: When credit union members contact a legislator, they will give a genuine representation of their feelings. And they won’t be paid to do it.” [email protected]

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