WASHINGTON-NCUA Director of Governmental and Congressional Affairs Cliff Northup has disclosed to Credit Union Times that he will be moving over to the U.S. Mint as its new director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs. Northup announced late last year that he would be leaving the agency. Many of Northup’s contacts will come in handy at his new post-namely the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees, Treasury, the Office of Management and Budget, the White House, and the financial services regulators. This position, like his current one, is a Schedule C political appointment. Referring to minting, Northup commented, “It’s a big money-maker for the government and Treasury every year.” Coin production brought about $600 million into the Treasury last year, he explained, since production costs are less than face value. One of his first tasks will be to help the next candidate for the director of the U.S. Mint prepare for his Senate confirmation hearing. Northup said he does not know of any names at this point for the position. He has previously worked with David A. Lebryck, who is currently serving as acting director; Northup worked at Treasury as deputy assistant secretary for legislative affairs (finance). The veteran lobbyist has experience with the Senate confirmation process, having helped prepare the last four NCUA Board members-NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson, former Board Member Debbie Matz, Vice Chairman Rodney Hood, and Board Member Gigi Hyland-for their confirmation hearings over the last four-and-a-half years. He was initially appointed as director of public and congressional affairs by former NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar and has served as director of governmental and congressional affairs under Johnson. Another top task for him at the U.S. Mint will be the implementation of the new $1 presidential coin program. Enthusiasm for coins was reignited with the state quarter program, which got some people collecting again. Additionally, commemorative coins and redesigns are regularly in the works. Coin design is not a new subject matter for Northup. In the late 1980s, while serving on Senator Bill Armstrong’s (R-Colo.) staff he helped draft legislation to redesign the U.S. coins, which at the time could only be redesigned every 25 years. While the bill never became law, he said, it did trigger the subsequent coin modernizations. Northup is “a bit of a coin collector” himself, he said, and still has some sets from when he was a kid. “They’re fun to have.” Even though he is moving on, Northup was glad for his time in credit unions. “It was great to get back into the credit union world,” he said. “I was with CUNA five years before. It’s a great industry and I hope to stay involved.” During Northup’s time at NCUA, the agency has seen the passage of a major overhaul to the bankruptcy system, including the so-called `netting provisions’ NCUA has pushed for; a request for comment finally from the Federal Trade Commission on disclosures for privately insured credit unions more than a decade after the law was enacted; inclusion of language in the deposit insurance reform legislation for credit union parity; progress for Chairman Johnson’s risk-weighted capital reform in the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 2317); and inclusion of key reforms in the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 3505), which has passed the House and a companion bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate this year. Additionally, Johnson and other NCUA staff testified before Congress on numerous occasions. The Senate has been a major hurdle for reg relief with a key disagreement between powerful committee members, but Northup sees hope for this year. “There are some indications they might try and get active on it in February when they get back,” he said. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) seems to be “waiting on a green light from the committee” to introduce the bill. Northup added that NCUA staff has been contacted very recently to ensure the legislator has all of the agency’s proposals for the bill. However, he does not expect NCUA’s Prompt Corrective Action reform to be a part of it. Northup said the omission appears to be more of a strategic move to get the ball rolling past banker objections to risk-weighted capital for credit unions rather than an actual substantive opposition. Over more than 20 years in financial services, Northup said the bankers are possibly more consistent in their attacks than ever. “It’s been pretty constant recently so I don’t expect that to change,” he observed. About two decades ago, Northup also served at CUNA during the crucial time of deregulation when the markets and not regulators began setting interest rates. Additionally, he worked to get Individual Retirement Accounts opened up to those with employer-sponsored retirement benefits, which had hamstrung credit unions from offering the products since many are tied to corporate sponsors. He was also a lobbyist for CUNA during the fight to get share drafts legalized. Northup began his career as a photographer in the U.S. Navy in 1973. Since then, he has worked in a number of governmental affairs positions including the American Council of Life Insurers and the American Bankers Association, as well as some consulting firms. [email protected]

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