Any public controversy involving a member and allegations of misdeeds should be taken seriously by a credit union, primarily because the credit union has a public-facing reputation that needs to be protected. And the best way to protect that reputation is to be factual, transparent, and clear about the credit union's member service focus. Once an issue arises, deal with it quickly before it deals with you.

The Turner case illustrates the line between a membership financial organization and a bank. Credit unions, both state and federal, have a limited ability to tell someone within their field of membership they can't open an account. Banks just say no.

Of course, the reason for the decline, even by a bank, can't be discriminatory. A turn-down because of the depositor's race, color or religion to name a few obvious ones simply isn't in the lexicon. But saying, "We don't serve that type of activity, organization purpose or goal," isn't as easy when you have members.

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