NAFCU Lobbyist Tries To Undo Conversion Bill

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Just three months after he changed sides in the bank-credit union wars, new NAFCU lobbyist Dan Berger is working to kill an anti-credit union bill he helped draft for the banking lobby.

Berger, who came to NAFCU in January from America's Community Bankers, is lobbying Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and other lawmakers against McHenry's bill to strip NCUA of much of its power over credit union conversions to mutual savings banks.

The involvement of Berger on the credit union side has confused lobbying over the bill, which Berger helped draft last year while working for ACB, the trade association for mutual savings banks.

Confusing the issue even more is an April 4 campaign fundraiser at Washington's Capitol Grille Berger and NAFCU and ACB sponsored for McHenry, who has emerged as a potential target for credit unions in this year's congressional elections.

ACB has been pushing for hearings on the bill just as the controversy over DFCU Financial, the largest credit union conversion ever to mutual savings bank, is heating up.

Berger said he knows where McHenry stands with some credit unions but is working to maintain a relationship with the chief sponsor of this important bill.

"We want the dialogue to continue. You can't have input on a bill if you write off a member of Congress," said Berger.

NAFCU President Fred Becker emphasized the need to work with all congressmen, even perceived opponents like McHenry.

"It doesn't mean you slam the door on the guy's nose and make an enemy forever," said Becker of McHenry's anti-credit union bill. "In my view, you would be ill-advised to do that with any member of Congress."

Becker said there are examples for turning would-be congressional foes into allies.

He cited Alabama Rep. Spencer Bachus, one of just six House members to vote against the landmark credit union bill HR 1151, the CU Membership Access Act.

Bachus has ascended to be chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and because of NAFCU's hard work has become a major credit union supporter since then.

Becker also emphasized that NAFCU has been working on building its relationships with the bank trade groups which bitterly oppose credit unions on Capitol Hill.

He said he meets regularly with top officials from ACB, the American Bankers Association, and the Independent Community Bankers Association.

CUNA also works with the banking groups on issues, as they did on bankruptcy reform, but has a strict policy of not sponsoring any congressional fundraisers or events with the banking associations.

The Journal's Ed Roberts can be contacted at eroberts

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