Targeting Credit Unions

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Responses to an American Bankers Association "bounty" of $1,000 to any banker who can provide photographic evidence of a credit union that is "overreaching" has ranged from the serious to the humorous.

CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica blasted the bounty as "outrageous." "This development is truly astounding in its audacity," said Mica. "It's clear the bank trade groups are more determined than ever, pulling out all the stops, and coming up with creative new ways to engage their membership."

Mica's comments came after the ABA said it was looking for examples of "a credit union billboard, advertisement or building that illustrates just how far some credit unions have deviated from their original mission."

"The real credit union story is illustrated by photos of credit union annual meetings, where each member is shown placing his or her one vote to select the volunteer board of directors. Or photos of credit union board meetings, where the volunteers are discussing how best to respond to their members' requests for debit cards, mortgage loans, business loans, and trust services," he said.

Meanwhile, in Harrisburg, Penn., the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association said it is also now "seeking evidence of Pennsylvania credit unions 'over-reaching' within their communities." The PCUA is staging a statewide photo contest of credit unions accenting their community service or coming to the aid of their members. "Since our beginnings, we've always been about people helping people. We just want to use this to demonstrate to legislators, regulators, and, of course, the bankers, our true essence," said PCUA Chairman Ron Lasich. "We don't just focus on the color green. We look at the entire rainbow and help our members find their own pot of gold."

The American Bankers Association's bounty program comes at the same time it is announcing it is joining with America's Community Bankers and the Independent Community Bankers of America for a coordinated effort to strip credit unions of the tax exemption. The three groups have formed the Inter-Trade CU Coordinating Council.

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