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WASHINGTON-The credit union trade associations, as well as regulators were scattered about the nation’s capital during the week of the second inauguration of President George W. Bush. The great strides NAFCU/PAC made during this election cycle allowed NAFCU and its officials to raise its profile, as well as credit unions’, during the inaugural events, NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler said. “We were able to increase the profile of NAFCU and the profile of credit unions through our activities,” he commented. NAFCU/PAC about quadrupled contributions received during this election cycle (2003-2004) over the previous one (2001-2002). Approximately $25,000 of that went to sponsoring inaugural events, according to Thaler. “It gets your name out in front with various members of Congress there,” he explained. Approximately 20 NAFCU representatives attended numerous events over the celebratory period. “It was a good time. We were pleased to have a good presence there,” Thaler said. Thaler and NAFCU Board Secretary Bill Cheney, president and CEO of Xerox Federal Credit Union, attended a luncheon with Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and his wife Jan. 19, the eve of the inauguration ceremony. The previous night Thaler had attended a reception at the Alexandria, Va. home of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act author. “Congressman Royce thanked credit unions for the support they had given in the last election and over the years,” Thaler said. NAFCU also caught up with a few freshmen members of Congress during the events. New Senate Banking Committee Member Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) spoke with NAFCU during the Florida ball, which NAFCU sponsored. Thaler said new Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who was recently named to the Financial Services Committee, had some knowledge of credit unions and their support in his campaign, which they discussed during the North Carolina ball. “He’s probably one of the most junior members of Congress but junior members eventually become senior members,” Thaler noted. “Inaugural activities are just a whirlwind generally,” CUNA Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs John McKechnie said the following week. These conditions are prime for holding impromptu meetings though. He mentioned that he spoke with House Financial Services Committee Member Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) at a Texas event. McKechnie was sure to note credit unions and their support of Hensarling’s campaign. “Probably one of the highlights for me was the private dinner we sponsored with the Speaker of the House,” McKechnie added. He grabbed the opportunity to speak with Dennis Hastert (D-Ill.) at the event. Though they did not talk specifics about credit unions, McKechnie said it was important to reinforce the idea that credit unions support him. Hastert recalled to the lobbyist that some people from the credit union community have been working on his campaigns ever since he served in the Illinois House, which McKechnie said was in the 1980s. On the day of the inauguration, CUNA officials attended the New York State Pre-Inaugural Celebration with Republican Governor George Pataki, as well as the swearing in ceremony and the Texas, Wyoming, and Florida balls. According to the Presidential Inaugural Committee Web site (www.inaugural05.com), CUNA gave $50,000 as of Jan. 14. NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson, who formerly served as the Iowa co-chair of President Bush’s 2000 election committee, attended a number of the inaugural events with her Chief of Staff Holly Herman and Director of External Affairs and Special Assistant Nick Owens. The trio had great seats for the inauguration from Owens’ home state Senator Trent Lott. All of them also attended the Texas Black Tie and Boots Ball and other inaugural balls. -

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