Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said credit unions enjoy a positive image on Capitol Hill, but said credit unions must continue their education efforts to keep that image healthy.
Credit unions' grassroots political efforts have been so strong that long- time CU supporter U.S. Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) "can't even cash a check in a bank in Ohio," the lawmaker quipped during a session about CU's image on Capitol Hill at CUNA's GAC.
Even so, Ney had some suggestions for how the movement can strengthen its already laudable grassroots network, suggesting CUs establish town hall meetings and forums to discuss CU issues and encouraging CU representatives to get to know their lawmakers, and their lawmakers' chiefs of staff.
Ney's Democratic counterpart from California, Rep. Brad Sherman agreed. "Credit unions have an outstanding image on the Hill," he said. "One advantage credit unions have is their relationships with members [of Congress]. Your image in Congress is the same as your image in the community. Profit-making corporations just don't have this same image with their customers."
But to remain effective in political activism, credit unions must work to retain that image, and offered some tips about how to do just that. In the wake of the Anthrax-laced mail scare, Sherman suggested credit unionss send their letters to their lawmakers' home offices instead of Washington and make use of e-mail, noting that it's important to include addresses and zip codes even in e- mail to ensure that a lawmaker recognizes the message is from a constituent.