Opposition Group Consolidates Candidates For Upcoming Board Election At DFCU

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DEARBORN, Mich. - With no decision in sight from the judge on members' lawsuit against DFCU Financial, the members' group formed to oppose the CU's attempted conversion is trying to consolidate support for three of its candidates in the upcoming board election.

DFCU Owners United had originally created a slate of six board candidates, hoping to oust the entire board of the credit union in a special meeting the group had petitioned to hold for that purpose. But the CU has refused to hold the meeting, and the judge in the case has so far refused to rule on the lawsuit filed in part to compel the meeting.

Without a special meeting, only three board seats will be up for grabs at the upcoming annual meeting, so DFCU Owners United is asking members to circulate a flyer that urges support of three candidates for DFCU Financial's board of directors-including former board chairman Linda Malec - who promise to restore member trust.

"Please print and distribute this flyer to your fellow members encouraging change and to restore trust to our credit union in the upcoming Board of Directors Election," the group urged from its website, www.savemycu.com.

It also explained that three additional candidates also endorsed by the members group-Bruce Gearns, Ryan Hershberger and Ron Seiler-have withdrawn their applications so as not to split the vote.

"They have since notified DFCU Financial that they wish to have their names withdrawn from the ballot, and will lend their support to Brunais, Malec and Mazzola for the three announced open board positions," the flyer states. All six of the candidates received notices from the $1.8-billion CU that their petitions had been validated. The ballots are expected to be mailed this month.

DFCU Financial has its own slate of candidates. They are incumbent J. Paul Conway and recently appointed members Jim Cowper and Keith Moss. The latter two are former supervisory committee members who were appointed to the board in recent months to replace former board chairman Harold Lowman and member Susan Smulsky. DFCU Financial has posted bios of those three candidates on its website, www.dfcu.org.

DFCU Owners United has asked CU officials to no avail that its candidates receive equal placement on the website.

In addition, the CU placed a half-page ad in the Jan. 1 edition of Ford World magazine that urges support for its three candidates. The headline reads: "You know a good thing when you vote for it." The copy highlights DFCU Financial's benefits, then warns, "In order to keep all these great benefits at our credit union, let's keep the leadership that has made it all possible. So, when you receive your ballot in the mail, use it to cast your vote for J. Paul Conway, Jim Cowper and Keith Moss. And keep a good thing going."

Members expressed frustration over the ad they say was likely paid for with members' money.

The latest activity follows indecision by Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia Stephens on whether the CU should hold a special meeting for the purpose of a recall vote of board members involved in the bank conversion attempt, and whether they should be allowed to spend corporate funds to solicit members on its own behalf.

In December, Stephens denied a request by three plaintiffs who are suing DFCU Financial that members get full access to records related to their CU's ill-fated conversion attempt.

Stephens gave no indication during the hearing as to when she might rule and has since had no contact with plaintiffs, according to sources close to the case.

As it stands, the CU is set to go forward with an election of three new board members during its annual meeting on Feb. 15 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Dearborn. (c) 2007 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.cujournal.com http://www.sourcemedia.com

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