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WASHINGTON-On April 29, nearly a year to the day from former NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar’s resignation from the board, President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate Rodney E. Hood to fill the empty seat on the NCUA Board. “I am very honored by the President’s confidence for this important position,” Hood said in a statement. He was appointed by the president in September 2004 to serve as associate administrator of Rural Housing Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Gilbert Gonzalez, who was once the front-runner for the post at NCUA. When Gonzalez’ nomination was held up in election year politics, he withdrew his name from the running. Prior to that, Hood served as marketing director and group sales manager for the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company in Durham, North Carolina. Also in a previous life, he served in community development-type positions for two banks. He was the national director of the Emerging Markets Group of Wells Fargo and, prior to that, worked for Bank of America as project manager for the Community Development Group. “The President has made an outstanding selection in Rodney Hood for the NCUA Board,” NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson commented. “Rodney has a vast array of experience in financial services and affordable housing which will be an asset to the NCUA and America’s credit unions. Rodney understands the issues facing the nation’s credit unions and the need for access to affordable financial services in communities across the country. I welcome the President’s announcement and look forward to working with Rodney in the days ahead.” According to NCUA Director of External Affairs Nick Owens, Johnson and Hood have a good working relationship already through NCUA’s work with the Department of Agriculture under its Access Across America Economic Empowerment initiative. NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz, who also came from USDA, quipped that they must “put the most talented appointees at USDA;” beyond that, she said the USDA connection is purely coincidence. Matz spoke with Hood last week and said he sounds very excited about the job and that he seems very pleasant. Though Matz will be the lone Democrat on the board, she said of the appointment of a third board member, “I think it’s good. It’s a three-member board and it’s good to have the full complement.” The seat that Dollar vacated April 30, 2004 has less than four years remaining on the term. Dollar served more than a year beyond his term and the seat has remained open since then, the longest period the NCUA Board has gone without three board members, according to Owens. What About Hood’s Banker Background? Former Chairman Dollar had plenty to say about Hood, all good. He said he has known him for a number of years and began speaking to him more regularly since he expressed interest in the position. “I’ve always been extremely impressed with Rodney,” he said. “He’s a bright and articulate up and comer in the Administration.” Dollar emphasized that Hood’s background with banks should not be a turn off to the credit union community. “I’m sure it raises the eyebrows of some,” he said, “but banks are a great training program for some, for those who have the heartbeat if they have the opportunity to work in the community development part of the bank.” Dollar said Hood understands the need for access to financial services and payday and check cashing alternatives. “Rodney recognizes the vital role credit unions play in today’s marketplace and is committed to seeing credit unions extend services to more Americans who need it,” Dollar, who had previously made it known that he preferred to have a `credit union person’ serving on the board, stated. He admitted, “There is no doubt as a credit union person, I see great value in having a credit union person on the board.If not a credit union person, I can think of no one better than Rodney Hood.” Dollar continued, “If there are any concerns about him as an unknown quantity, I think they will be put to rest when they see him in action.” In a statement issued by CUNA, President and CEO Dan Mica noted the group’s concern that no one on the NCUA Board would have credit union experience. “CUNA recognizes it is good public policy and longstanding tradition to have at least one member of the NCUA Board with credit union experience, and we will urge the White House to continue that tradition when filling the next vacancy that occurs on the Board,” he said. NAFCU expressed no worries regarding Hood’s banking background, however, according to NAFCU Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bill Donovan. “We view his background in financial services as a real plus and the area in which he served at B of A and at Wells Fargo Financial Services are areas in which credit unions have already distinguished themselves again and again over the years. Rather than giving us pause, we think the credentials that Mr. Hood brings to the board are going to be beneficial in that he will have experience working in areas very close to the mission of credit unions but with a perspective or viewpoint that we have not yet had on the NCUA Board and, if anything, we see that as a plus.” Trade Association Reaction While many have suggested that Hood could possibly receive a recess appointment until Matz’ seat can be filled, Dollar indicated that the Senate does not always look kindly upon the recess appointment process, which serves to temporarily circumvent the Senate confirmation process. CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn said he had no indications that Hood would receive a recess appointment, but did point out that the Senate was in recess last week. As of deadline, a recess appointment had not been made. There is also the Memorial Day recess coming up and the entire month of August when lawmakers leave town. Donovan agreed that while a recess appointment last week was possible but “not highly likely,” he explained, “I would suspect that the people in White House Office of Personnel would want to let people on Capitol Hill and in the industry become a little more comfortable with the selection of Rodney Hood to be an NCUA Board member before moving forward with a recess appointment. And it certainly isn’t predetermined that there will be a recess appointment.” The regular order of a nomination calls for the Senate to receive the nomination. Then, in this case, the Senate Banking Committee would hold hearings. Finally, the committee would report its findings to the full Senate for a vote. “While we’ve had much talk about recess appointments over the course of the last five or six months, and while a recess appointment certainly is possible, I don’t think that any of us should conclude that the White House does not intend to follow the ordinary course of pursuing a nomination,” Donovan added. “With his extensive background in government, affordable housing, and community development, Rodney Hood has the credentials and experience to make a positive contribution to the NCUA Board,” CUNA’s Mica commented. “We look forward to working closely with him upon his arrival at the agency. We are also pleased to see the NCUA Board will again have its full complement of members as it considers important upcoming regulatory issues facing the nation’s credit unions.” Democratic Nominee Speculation Swirling Since Hood lacks credit union experience and Matz’ term ends August 2, that does leave the Democratic slot open for a `credit union person’ to be seated. Speculation has already begun swirling around this appointment. One name that has surfaced among sources knowledgeable in the process has been Empire Corporate Federal Credit Union Senior Vice President and General Counsel GiGi Hyland. “While it would be a great honor to be considered for an appointment to the NCUA Board, it is very early in process, and no further comment would be appropriate at this time,” Hyland has commented. Prior to Empire, Hyland served as executive director for the Association of Corporate Credit Unions. Another name is former NCUA Board Member Geoff Bacino, who currently serves as an executive vice president with Centrix Financial Services. Having served only as a recess appointee for about one year, he is eligible to serve again. Inside sources have said all along that both nominations would likely go through the Senate confirmation process together to grease the wheels. -

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