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OKLAHOMA CITY – With the number of volunteers the industry has, credit unions have tremendous grassroots potential, but unfortunately they still lack firm lobbying commitment from many credit unions, according to a top Oklahoma lobbyist. “I’d say half of the league members take part in government affairs by direct contact with their lawmakers and we need to bring that number up to the 70-90% range,” said Bobby Stem, owner of Capitol Gains LLC, which has become the state’s largest lobbying firm. The Oklahoma Credit Union League was its first client. Stem contends that as compared to clients like J.C. Penney, Nextel Corp. or Fraternal Order of Police “which has a paid force working a 40- to 60-hour week;” CUs have a member organization which could be put to greater use in meeting with lawmakers on a more regular basis. Stems acknowledged that CUs have a difficult problem in small communities where banks with their economic and political clout dominate the local scene and where CUs lack a presence. However, despite the advantage banks retain, credit union CEOs must become far more motivated than they have in the past to step up direct contacts with lawmakers at least twice a year or more, Stem urged.

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