Alan D. Theriault commits a self-fulfilling prophecy in his letter in the Nov. 30 issue – he, for sure, is yelling "fire" in a crowded and hypersensitive theater. Let's set the facts straight about CUNA and its intentions for credit unions: We are working meticulously to improve the credit union charter – such as by shepherding the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA, HR 2317) and supporting the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act (HR 3505) – both of which contain key elements to give credit unions more flexibility in serving their members in the modern marketplace. As we stated in our testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee's oversight hearing on the credit union tax-exemption, "If the tax-exemption were removed-if 87 million Americans were forced to pay taxes solely because of their membership in a credit union-it would lead to the end of the movement that we know." CUNA is committed to maintaining the tax-exempt status of all credit unions. Mr. Theriault does not speak for CUNA, and does not accurately portray either the policies or intentions of the nation's largest trade group for credit unions. Rather, Mr. Theriault only speaks for himself and his business – which profits from convincing credit unions to switch to mutual savings banks charters. In that regard, Mr. Theriault's letter seems to us to be aimed at spreading fear and panic among credit unions that taxation is inevitable, and to contact him to make a switch. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, in his opinion in Schenk v. United States, Baer v. United States (1919) that "the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic." At these times of congressional oversight, tension over conversions and banker attacks, Mr. Theriault does no justice to credit unions by his inflammatory and misleading comments. Juri Valdov Chairman CUNA Washington, D.C. President and CEO Northwest FCU Herndon, Va.

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