GAC leaves halls of Congress ringing with CU message

March 12, 2015

WASHINGTON (3/13/15)--CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) wrapped up Thursday and was capped with this accomplishment: Credit union leaders in town for the meeting met with the offices of nearly all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, presenting a unified voice behind the priorities of credit unions nationwide.

Credit union advocates also meet with key regulators during the GAC, such as the three members of the National Credit Union Administration and often representatives of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They bring to all meetings information to inform policy decision--but also personal stories of their service to members under the credit union philosophy of "people helping people."

As part of the final GAC outreach, credit unions from Missouri met with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) Thursday for a morning coffee to talk about merchant data breaches and their deleterious effects, an issue credit union representatives from across the country brought to their lawmakers throughout the week.

"It is critical for us to express to you what the true cost is to us," said Jeff Kennedy, president/CEO, TwinStar, Lacey, Wash., during a meeting Wednesday with a staff member of Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.).

A contingent from the New Jersey Credit Union League hit 12 of the state's 14 congressional delegates during the week, including a meeting with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to talk about data security, regulatory relief and the credit union not-for-profit tax status, according to the league.

Further, nearly 120 credit union representatives from New York met with roughly two dozen of its representatives, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The New York Credit Union Association said Schumer posted the following message to Facebook after the meeting:

"Did you know there are 384 credit unions and 5.1 million members in New York? Great meeting with New York Credit Union Association today in DC for #CUNAGAC."

GAC also offers credit unions the opportunity to meet with regulators such as the three NCUA board members and members of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Michigan Credit Union League, for example, held a meeting with NCUA Vice Chair Rick Metsger, who told the league that the letters from Michigan credit unions played an important role in revising the NCUA's controversial risk-based capital proposal, the league said.

Several of the leagues also produced daily content covering their work during GAC this year, including the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU), which put together a daily video featuring Mike Bridges, LSCU vice president of communications.

The Northwest Credit Union Association also maintained a running blog of events throughout the week.