Two mysteries surround last month's congressional hearing on extending the Community Reinvestment Act to credit unions.
Why did C. Kendrick Fergeson testify on behalf of the American Bankers Association? And why wasn't National Credit Union Administration Chairman Norman E. D'Amours even invited?
Many bankers have clamored for dragging credit unions under the umbrella of CRA. But not Mr. Fergeson, president of the National Bank of Commerce, Altus, Okla., and head of the trade group's Community Bankers Council.
"I wouldn't wish CRA on anybody. I'd rather spend the time working to release banks from CRA than trying to bring everybody else into it," Mr. Fergeson is quoted as saying in the February 1994 issue of ABA's Banking Journal
"That isn't a universal opinion," he admitted.
In an interview, Mr. Fergeson said he doesn't think! his testi: mony contradicts his quotes in the magazine.
"That was a heating called by Joe Kennedy and I thought we should respond;' he said. "All things being equal, if a credit union is going to act like a bank, it should be under CRA."
The Sept. 22 hearing was held by the House Banking subcommittee on consumer credit and insurance, which is chaired by Joseph P. Kennedy 2d, D-Mass. Rep. Kennedy favors bringing credit unions under CRA.
Conspicuously absent from Rep. Kennedy's hearing was one of the most outspoken opponents of extending CRA to credit unions: the NCUA chairman.
Mr, D'Amours has come out against CRA in speeches, and arg,ued for the industry's exemption during a private meeting.
At a Sept 29 heating on the industry's health, Mr. D'Amours responded to attacks by Rep. Kennedy on the industry's exemption.
At this hearing the regulator said he wished he had been invited to the one earlier in the month.
Rep. Kennedy did a double take and told Mr. D'Amours he had invited him when they met in June.
Mr. D'Amours replied that he didn't recall an invitation.
Flabbergasted, Rep. Kennedy replied: "For the record, you said you didn't think it would be in your political interest to testify."
The two went back and forth. Rep. Kennedy said his staff had asked NCUA staff if Mr. D'Amours wanted to testify; Mr. D'Amours said his staff said there had been no invitation.
Finally Mr. D'Amours said he thought an "honest misunderstanding" had occurred. House Banking Committee Chairman Henry B. Gonzalez intervened and agreed with Mr. D'Amours.
Rep. Gonzalez suggested that Rep. Kennedy invite Mr. D'Amours to testify if the subcommittee holds another hearing on the issue,
Smiling, Rep. Kennedy said he would.