California Reports Surge In Number Of CU 'Advocates'

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The success by credit union-backed candidates in the recent California primary elections demonstrate the effectiveness of the drive to build an "advocate network" by the California and Nevada CU Leagues, the leagues are saying.

"We have seen a lot of activity-our members meeting with local elected officials," said Bob Arnould, SVP-government affairs. "Credit unions are understanding the importance of establishing a relationship with local leaders before they move to the legislative level."

Each attendee of a grassroots campaign meeting earlier this year was asked to recruit five additional credit union advocates. Arnould said the league trained 1,000 advocates in 2005, and an additional 500 in the first five months of this year. "We are educating them and energizing them. We let them know what is going on in the political arena."

According to Arnould, these efforts are a component of a larger grassroots effort, which includes the public advocacy radio campaign California and Nevada CUs have sponsored for the past year and a half. He said the radio buy is "stronger than ever," and the campaign is "continuing to move the numbers with the public and build understanding of the difference between banks and credit unions."

The CCUL has formed committees around the Golden State to liaison with key members of the state and federal governments. Arnould said the purpose is to move beyond lobbying for a particular bill. "We want to be an ongoing resource for elected officials. We are constantly working on building relationships."

The two leagues have more than 4,000 names in the "Connect for the Cause" database-which Arnould said represented a pool of people who are poised to communicate with elected officials.

He added that there are 26,000 CU employees in California, and the next goal is to get those people in the database, as well.

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