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SALT LAKE CITY – He’s only been on the job a year and a half but the president/CEO of the Utah League of Credit Unions had to admit and even apologize “for getting misty eyed” so frequently when he discusses the passion he said he now holds for the CU movement and the support he gets. Indeed, Scott F. Simpson who won applause from the League membership for his stewardship of the trade association during what he calls a tough year when “it’s been like drinking from a fire hose,” told a management luncheon March 12 at the League’s annual meeting he was sorry for becoming so emotional. Still, the former executive director of the Utah Republican Party said he was “absolutely flabbergasted” at the energy and enthusiasm of Utah CUs in fighting the banking lobby – and almost winning in the Utah Senate – the vote over the anti-CU resolution to draw Congress into the tax issue. Though the actual Feb. 21 Senate tally was 15-12, the League leadership has maintained the measure passed “by only one vote” since there were a handful of pro-CU absentee ballots including one from Senator Paula Julander, a former League staffer, who had unexpectedly had to resign her post for health reasons. The new chairman of the Utah League, John Lund, who also is executive vice president of America First FCU, said Simpson had done a remarkable job in 2004-05 in fending off bank attacks particularly “when you look at what the banks spend in lobbying and on attorneys.” Earlier, the outgoing chairman of the League, Steven Christensen, in his farewell annual report lamented “the very turbulent times for our movement in Utah” noting that it is “tempting to grumble about what we have and what we don’t have.” But Utah CUs, he said, simply “can’t walk away from the problem” referring to the battle with bankers. Rather, CUs have to come up with a solution because “we don’t have a future” without getting into the trenches, said Christensen, who also is president/CEO of Tooele FCU. In his remarks, Simpson described a “barrage of legislative pressure” over the last year emanating from the banker-friendly Financial Institutions Task Force in the legislature as well as a primary battle to defeat a CU adversary, House Speaker Marty Stephens, once a candidate for governor and a former vice president of Zions Bank. In addressing the management luncheon, Simpson focused on caucuses and the 2006 election appealing to CUs to get closer to key lawmakers “to change the culture and the leadership regime.” Though Utah CUs “did everything they could,” there is still room for improvement to try and topple the banker-led leadership which held sway over lawmakers who once supported CUs but saw “their bills held hostage” because of a pro-League position on the Congressional resolution. The Utah League CEO called the “Citizens Petition” e-mail and lobby campaign on the resolution successful adding he was also heartened by the voluntary financial support given by CUs to a co-op TV and radio advertising drive begun last year. He urged League attendees “to read some of the personal stories by your own members” on a defendmycreditunion.org Web site linked to the “The Difference Is You” campaign. He said he is continually touched by the stories which describe reliance on CUs for financial support during tough times. On the lobbying side, Simpson concluded Utah “is blessed with leadership in its Congressional delegation” that is sympathetic to CUs unlike the state legislature where the term leadership has to be used “loosely.” [email protected]

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