NEW YORK-On the eve of President George W. Bush accepting the Republican Party's nomination as a presidential candidate, the Tennessee Credit Union League and CUNA wowed the Tennessee delegation and lawmakers with a reception that soared to dizzying heights. The league and CUNA hosted a luncheon Sept. 1 during the Republican National Convention on the 51st floor-the penthouse-of the Olympic Towers in mid-town Manhattan. Approximately 180 lawmakers and delegates from the state received an education about credit union issues. "Many of them were state representatives or running for state offices and were unfamiliar with credit union issues, and we had an opportunity to talk about credit unions, talk to people that were credit union members and weren't aware of the issues, so we could get them more involved in the coming months," CUNA Political Communication Manager Paige Fadden said. Tennessee Republican U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn and John J. Duncan made appearances, as well as nearly the entire Tennessee delegation, at the event. "We got a lot of positive feedback from the Tennessee delegation," CUNA Director of Grassroots and Political Involvement Gretchen Graf said. "I actually got an e-mail late [Labor Day] night from the Republican party organizer.Everyone was extremely pleased with that and we had a great opportunity to meet with lots of different members of Congress throughout the week.Overall the event went really well and they were happy to see us all over the place." All over the place is right. CUNA Vice President for Legislative Affairs and Senior Legislative Representative Gary Kohn could be spotted late that night on many of the major networks nearly being trampled as a protestor was rushed out of Madison Square Garden during Vice President Dick Cheney's speech. NAFCU too was all over the place, but Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler had a great opportunity fall right into his lap. He actually was on the same flight as House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) back to Washington, D.C. After they had landed, Thaler took the opportunity to speak with the chairman. "He thanked us for our support of the tribute to the financial services committee on Monday night and that he was hearing from a lot members that that was one of the better events at the convention," Thaler said. The tribute to the financial services committee was held at the esteemed Rainbow Room and featured performances by Frank Sinatra, Jr., Christopher Cross, and others. In all, NAFCU staff and volunteers attended more than 60 different events, including a Texas delegation event. While there, Thaler and NAFCU Secretary Bill Cheney, president and CEO of Xerox Federal Credit Union, had the opportunity to mingle with Congressman Henry Bonilla (R-Texas), a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee. Having been formerly employed at Security Service Federal Credit Union in Texas, Cheney had an "in" with Bonilla. CUNA and associated staff could also be seen directing traffic so to speak during the RNC. At one point, the conventioneers ran short on volunteers to direct delegates to their community service areas so CUNA's Vice President of Editorial Communications Dave Klavitter and Fadden, as well as the New York State Credit Union League Senior Vice President Mike Lanotte and Vice President of Governmental Affairs Amy Kramer, and Empire Corporate Federal Credit Union Senior Vice President of Corporate relations Dirck Van Deusen and General Counsel GiGi Hyland filled in. Graf pointed out that this was "a great opportunity for CUNA to be able to just jump in with volunteers for the convention when they were short on folks." Fadden said she and others made a point to say they were associated with credit unions while they gently prodded the delegates in the proper direction. [email protected]

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