SALT LAKE CITY – Despite a vigorous e-mail and media campaign waged by the Utah League of Credit Unions, the state legislature appears to be moving ahead with its controversial anti-CU resolution asking for congressional intervention in the bank/CU tax fight. “There could be some swing votes in our favor in the Senate,” said a spokesman for the League which is holding out hope the upper chamber might still kill the House-passed resolution pushed by the powerful banking lobby to bring new congressional scrutiny of NCUA rulings and the taxation of federal and state CUs. While undertaking an aggressive TV/radio blitz to encourage public support to defeat the resolution, the League has labeled the banker-backed measure a waste of legislator time and expense, and an “absolutely silly exercise” with no meaning to federal lawmakers Should the non-binding resolution pass the Senate and go on to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., the League has pledged to blanket its own congressional delegation and U.S. lawmakers with the signatures of upwards of 50,000 Utahans who oppose the action of the legislature and want to “save our credit unions.” Combined with a Web and radio ads have been running for weeks in major Utah markets with a “Stop the Bank Attack: message. By the end of last week, more than 15,000 e-mails had been received on the Web site with an uncounted number of signatures on petitions left in CU lobbies. The Utah Bankers Association has labeled the League e-mail campaign “another example of lies and deception” in trying to hoodwink Utah residents on the legitimate work of the House-Senate Financial Institution Task Force which last year adopted the Congressional resolution. “The creditability of the Utah League is in the toilet,” declared Howard Headlee, the oft-quoted president of the UBA. A UBA spokeswoman, noting that the League spent $280,000 on TV ads “in the last quarter and this quarter” said the UBA has made no plans for a counter-message in the media “We want to see what the legislature does,” she said citing a close vote Feb. 8 taken by the Senate Rules Committee to pass out HJR 1, as it is known, to the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee. It passed the House 41-34 on Jan. 25 but the Utah League has long maintained it is waging an uphill fight in the legislature with a leadership dominated by the banking lobby. In its e-mail campaign, the Web site asks Utahans to write their senators and representatives warning CUs will be eliminated in Utah if the banks prevail. The Web site also suggests the resolution to Congress is toothless and is a rehash of the decade-old bank/CU tax battle with bankers having the upper hand in passing injurious legislation undermining CU powers. Why would Congress “pay for the state’s mistakes,” asks the Web site. “Why should they listen to Utah’s legislature in the first place? On the face of it, this is empty legislation with no enforcement power. The banks are the only ones who want it. “Unfortunately, HJR 1 can’t just be laughed away,” the site says, “If Congress decides that some credit unions should lose their tax exemptions, then they take the first step toward destroying credit unions altogether.” The site goes on to warn that “if banks have their druthers, all of Utah’s credit unions would pay higher taxes. If credit unions pay more taxes, they might not be able to provide service to you at such a low cost. “There is no doubt that credit unions’ partial tax exemption is passed on to you, the Utah consumer. Want proof? Here you go.” The site then shows a bank/CU rate comparison chart highlighting CUs’ more favorable rates. The ad campaign put together by Summit Group Communications, a Salt Lake agency, is being managed by the League staff under the guidance of Scott Simpson, president and CEO, and gets periodically “tweaked” with added messages to fit the course of the legislative battle, officials said. The TV ads and 60-second radio commercials have also contained messages about the tax exemptions being supported by President Bush as well as leading members of Congress. Including Sen. Richard Shelby (R. Ala.) chairman of the Banking Committee. [email protected]

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