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WASHINGTON-Inaugural activities last week were crawling with credit union representatives eager to celebrate democracy. “The inauguration of the president is truly a recognition and commemoration of the democratic principles on which the United States was founded, and I believe that it’s important to the nation to celebrate those events appropriately. Not in a partisan manner, but in a spirit recognizing the principles of democracy here at home and around the world,” NAFCU General Counsel Bill Donovan stated. “While there is a war against terrorism in which we are actively engaged, and, while there are Americans losing their lives in Iraq and elsewhere, that war being waged in which the Americans are losing their lives is in order for the principles of democracy to prevail.” CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose agreed, “This is a time for everybody to come together and celebrate our democratic process.” Officials from throughout the credit union community were planning to celebrate heartily last week. “We have several of our board members coming into town.for various events surrounding the inaugural activities,” NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler said. On Tuesday evening NAFCU officials and staff attended a reception held by Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the main sponsor of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act. But, events really got into full swing after press time Wednesday when representatives from CUNA and NAFCU attended the Texas-based Black Tie and Boots ball, where President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush were expected to make an appearance. That same night NAFCU attended a North Carolina sponsored event as well as a late night event by the Wyoming State Society, home of Vice President Dick Cheney. Prior to the president’s swearing in there will be a breakfast Thursday morning honoring Medal of Honor winners. While NAFCU officials will be huddled with the masses along the parade route, CUNA officials and guests will have a great view from CUNA’s 601 Pennsylvania Avenue headquarters in Washington, D.C. Then throughout Thursday, there will be numerous congressional receptions and several balls around town that evening. NAFCU is cosponsoring a Florida inaugural committee event, home state to `First Brother’ Governor Jeb Bush and the newest member of the Senate Banking Committee, Mel Martinez (R). Events conclude Friday with a wrap up party for the presidential inaugural committee staff and Bush-Cheney `04 staff. “The importance of these really is the fact that you get to-in a relaxed atmosphere-join in with members of Congress and they see you there,” Gose said. The primary difference between attending the inaugural events and the party conventions is that at the inauguration events lawmakers are not working to get re-elected, he emphasized. Representatives from credit unions all over California made the cross-country trek to attend various inaugural events last week in Washington, D.C. California credit union leaders had five inaugural balls to choose from on Thursday, inauguration day, including the Stars and Stripes Ball, the Congressional Leadership Ball, and the Democracy Ball, which is sponsored by California and six other states. The league has also obtained credentials to the inaugural parade. The California delegation attended a welcome reception at Royce’s Alexandria, Va. home Jan 18, as well as a private luncheon he hosted last Wednesday. The group was also slated to visit open houses at the offices of Representatives Brad Sherman (D), Jerry Lewis (R), and David Dreier (R) and a dinner on Wednesday at B. Smith’s Restaurant in Union Station hosted by Gary Miller (R), among other celebrations. Additionally, they were participating in a reception at Credit Union House Thursday for Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-Penn.), a new member of the House Financial Services Committee. [email protected]

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