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CU Lobbyist New Secretary of State

TALLAHASEE, Fla.-Former Secretary of State Jim Smith, a lobbyist for the Florida Credit Union league, was reappointed to the Secretary's job by Gov. Jeb Bush after controversial Secretary of State Katherine Harris was forced to resign as a legal condition for her candidacy for Congress.

Republican Harris, who helped deliver Florida to George W. Bush by ending the controversial 2000 presidential recount, tendered her resignation last week, retroactive to July 15, when she qualified to run for Congress, a requirement under state law.

Democrat officials have questioned whether Harris' actions were legal. One of her congressional opponents, Candice Brown McElyea, said her campaign and Democratic officials were considering legal action to try to keep Harris off the ballot. Harris is being supported by the state's CUs in her congressional race.

Fiserv Among First To Comply

BROOKFIELD, Wis.-Fiserv, Inc., became one of the first companies to comply with the Securities and Exchange Commission's new requirements to have its top executives swear by the accuracy of the company's financial statements. Both CEO Leslie Muma and chief financial officer Kenneth Jensen filed a written statement with the SEC under oath swearing to the accuracy of the company's financials.

Alexander Defeats CU Candidate

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Two-time presidential candidate and former U.S. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander trounced credit union-backed four-term Rep. Ed Bryant by 54% to 43% in this state's Republican primary and will go on to face eight-term Rep. Bob Clement, who won the Democratic contest, in November's general election.

Bryant's support for HR 1151 and the bankruptcy reform bill earned him the backing of the state's credit unions in the primary. However, credit unions will not be without a friend in the contest to succeed two-term Sen. Fred Thompson, as Clement was also an HR 1151 supporter and has been the recipient of credit union contributions in his campaign.

Also winning the primary was credit union-backed Democrat Lincoln Davis who will face Republican Janice Bowling in November. Former Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper and Republican Robert Duvall won their parties' nominations in Clement's district, which has been held by Democrats since Reconstruction.

CU Caught In Area ID Theft Ring

VALPARAISO, Ind.-Bethlehem Employees FCU is the latest of 10 area banks and credit unions victimized by a duo of who are robbing institutions through identity theft. The credit union said it lost $7,000 in separate incidents last month in which the perpetrators got their own photos plastered on identification cards with legitimate members or customers names. Then, they would manufacture a check, usually made out for $6,000 to $8,000, and go to the victim's credit union or bank, and deposit half but ask for the rest back in cash. The thieves are long gone by the time the banks realize the check and ID are fake. Also victimized in recent months was Laporter FCU, and several area banks.

Directors Given Protection In Ill.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.-Amendments to the state's credit union statute will provide new protections for credit union directors and volunteer committee members against liability when they are relying on the judgement of paid credit union employees and hired professionals, like auditors.

The amendments, signed into law last month, match similar shields provided for bank and thrift directors, according to Keith Sias, statehouse lobbyist for the Illinois Credit Union League. The amendments will also allow state-chartered credit unions to offer forms of secondary capital and to count it as their net worth under prompt corrective action, if, and when, NCUA acts to count secondary capital under its PCA rules, Sias told The Credit Union Journal.

The amendments will also require out-of-state credit unions to register and pay a registration fee with the state for the first time.

"Currently, they (Department of Financial Institutions) don't know what out-of-state credit unions are operating in Illinois or where their branches are," said Sias.

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