NAFCU Hires Lobbyist Dan Berger To Succeed Donovan

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NAFCU announced last week it hired B. Dan Berger, a lobbyist for the thrift industry's trade association, America's Community Bankers, as its new chief lobbyist.

As head of NAFCU's regulatory affairs department, Berger will head a staff of 20 legislative and regulatory lobbyists and succeed Bill Donovan, who left the credit union trade association after 26 years last month to join the Washington law firm of Venable LLP.

As vice president of government relations at the thrift group, Berger earned a reputation as an influential lobbyist on Capitol Hill and was widely credited with bringing the credit union tax exemption to the attention of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, prompting hearings on the exemption last November.

He also worked with lawmakers on efforts to ease the way for credit unions to convert to mutual savings banks, or thrifts. One source said Berger was especially influential in helping to draft Rep. Patrick McHenry's bill to limit NCUA's powers over conversions.

"He's pretty well respected in Republican circles," said one credit union lobbyist, of Berger, who served as chief of staff to Republican Rep. Katherine Harris, of Florida, before working for the ACB.

NAFCU President Fred Becker acknowledged Berger's role in the credit union-banks conflicts and said he believes it indicates Berger's abilities as a lobbyist. "He was their lobbyist," Becker said of the Berger's former job.

But the NAFCU Chief Executive insisted Berger's former activities should not have any negative impact on his new job as credit union advocate or his potential relationship with credit union executives. "I don't perceive that as being any bit of a problem. In fact, I expect it to be a big help," said Becker.

Before joining ACB in 2003, Berger headed Rep. Harris's staff of 22 and ran the former Florida Secretary of State's controversial 2002 congressional campaign, when Harris had to confront allegations she helped throw the 2000 presidential election to George Bush during the historic recount with Vice President Al Gore.

Berger's affiliation with the GOP gives something NAFCU has always lacked, influence with the Republican Party, which controls all levels of power in Washington. NAFCU lobbyists' relationships have always been closer with Democrats. Becker acknowledged this potential benefit for NAFCU.

Becker said Berger was chosen during a search conducted by Korn/Ferry International. The firm presented Becker with a list of as many as 20 candidates and Becker interviewed six.

Donovan, one of the best known faces of the credit union movement, left NAFCU along with Gwen baker, the head of NAFCU's regulatory affairs department, to help with the financial services practice at Venable, a lawfirm that represented NAFCU on several major cases, including the landmark AT&T Family FCU suit.

Berger has a master's degree in public administration from Harvard and a bachelor's degree in economics from Florida State University. He lives in Alexandria, Va., with his wife and daughter.

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