CU advocates reach new levels of voice, influence as 2018 CUNA GAC comes to a close
Thursday, March 1, 2018
|Top: CUNA Chairman and LGFCU CEO Maurice Smith speaks to GAC attendees (photo credit: CUNA).
Bottom: NC credit union advocates meet with Rep. David Price (D-NC4) during Wednesday's Hill visits.
Washington, DC--As midweek brought the two most active days of the 2018 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (CUNA GAC), Carolinas credit union advocates achieved new levels of voice and potential throughout the movement and with those in position of influence.
In general session on Tuesday, February 27 they heard from regulators including NCUA Board Member Rick Metsger, who recognized credit unions for their fortitude, having risen from the economic downturn to peaks in membership, total assets, and financial strength.
Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Mick Mulvaney was even more positive in his late morning address, given his contrast with former director Richard Cordray and his early mention of longtime membership with South Carolina's Founders Federal Credit Union. His affirmation, though called out by the Los Angeles Times, demonstrated his understanding that regulation should be as focused as possible on those in need of boundaries.
"Everybody deserves to be treated fairly. We have to be 100 percent sure that in everything we do, we are acting appropriately," Mulvaney told the general session. "We thank you for what you're doing and we need you to continue to do it."
Credit unions also learned of a new awareness platform Tuesday morning that is based on well over a year's research led by CUNA and leadership of the CUNA Creating Awareness Advisory Group. "Open your eyes to a credit union" is brand basis for credit unions to invite new members by revealing what credit unions offer that appeals to them. (See full presentation via CUNA's Facebook Live).
And Tuesday offered the first opportunity for new CUNA Board Chairman Maurice Smith to speak to his agenda. Smith, who is CEO of Local Government Federal Credit Union in Raleigh, assumed leadership of the CUNA Board Monday while in a coalition meeting at the White House.
“My agenda is the board’s agenda, which is CUNA’s agenda, which is CUNA’s platform, which is all about your credit unions, and you all are all about your members,” Smith shared as mapped on the tremendous screen behind him. “So I suppose if I have an agenda, it’s your members’ agenda, your communities’ agenda. I’m here to further that agenda as best I can.”
By midday Tuesday and Wednesday, contingents from North and South Carolina had gathered on Capitol Hill, making their voices heard for common-sense regulation, improved data security and merchant accountability for breaches, and attention to predatory lawsuits over ADA website accessibility compliance. They also thanked their delegation members who kept credit unions' status off the table in discussion and passage of tax reform.
North Carolina credit unions split meetings nearly equally over two days, first in a Capitol Visitor Center room on Tuesday then a committee room in the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday. All told they saw eight of North Carolina's thirteen US House members and both senators, plus staff from remaining offices.
"It is because of the enduring quality of credit unions that you came out of tax reform without being dinged," Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC10) assured them, noting the effectiveness of their consistent and persistent advocacy.
That was equally evident for the Palmetto State contingent, which saw four of seven of its US House members on Tuesday in a Rayburn committee room, then a small group visited with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) at his office in the Russell Senate Office Building. Despite cancellation of Wednesday morning's remarks to the general session by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) due to his illness, the energy returned by the delegation was uniquely strong.
"I'm a credit union member and will always look at how the issues we address affect you," Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC3) told Tuesday's group. "You are our neighbors, and I'm a believer and a friend."
For more, see our CUNA GAC photo gallery, see CUNA News Tuesday and Wednesday coverage, and follow @TheCCUL on Twitter.