Airwaves Inundated By Dueling Ads On Interchange

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WASHINGTON – Millions of dollars in ads are being printed and carried over the airwaves by credit unions and banks and their nemeses in the interchange amendment to the bank bill, the nation’s retailing groups, in the biggest credit union lobbying effort in more than a decade.

One ad paid for by the California/Nevada and Texas credit union leagues and the California Independent Bankers running in Capitol Hill’s Roll Call this week read, “Big retailers want consumers to pay for their cost of doing business,” and urged Congress to delete the interchange amendment from the bank bill.

“This is the biggest grassroots campaign for CUNA and the leagues since '98, the lobby over HR 1151, the CU Membership Access Act,” said Mark Wolf, chief spokesman for CUNA, which has financed ads in media targeting members of Congress and also in targeted districts around the country.

CUNA has not only bought ads in media focusing on Congress, such as newspapers Roll Call, Politico, Congressional Daily, The Hill and National Journal, but also in selected newspapers and on radio around the country, according to Richard Gose, political director for CUNA. “We’re running ads both inside the Beltway and in a number of districts and states,” Gose told Credit Union Journal yesterday.

The radio spots target specific congressional districts in Vermont, Tennessee, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Idaho, Georgia and Arizona, where one or more representatives may sway the debate over the interchange amendment. “We’re trying to cover all of our bases in leading markets,” said Gose.

Several state credit union leagues are also planning to run web ads targeting members of Congress and their staff.

Other groups are opening their wallets over the interchange amendment, even as they contest other provisions on the bank bill. The Independent Community Bankers Association is running ads in several publications, some in partnership with NAFCU. The American Bankers Association ran full-page ads in The Hill and Roll Call Wednesday. The three trade associations are all members of the Electronic Payments Coalition that is spearheading the lobby to defeat the interchange amendment.

And the chief supporters of the interchange amendment, the constituent members of the Merchants Payment Coalition, are spending big money to advertise their cause as well, blanketing Capitol Hill publications and reaching out to local media, as well. Bob Arnould, the chief lobbyist for the California CU League, said his group wanted to run follow-up ads in several Capitol Hill newspapers but “there was no space left because of the merchants coalition.”


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