Despite charges of censorship, several credit union trade associations are shielding their members from a consultant who helps credit unions convert to mutual thrifts.
Alan D. Theriault, president of Portland, Maine-based CU Financial Services, said three credit union trade groups have rejected his paid advertisements for their magazines, censored his booth exhibits at their conferences, or spurned his services as an expert panelist. The dispute comes as more credit unions consider switching charters. In February the Supreme Court ruled that a credit union cannot serve more than one employer group. Meanwhile, the Office of Thrift Supervision has proposed letting federal mutual thrifts use a one-member, one-vote power structure-a signature feature of credit unions.
"Discussion and debate ... are beneficial for democratic organizations, and charter conversions should be a topic during credit union assemblies," Mr. Theriault wrote in a letter to the New York State Credit Union League, which forced him to abandon his booth at its June 25-27 annual convention.
League spokeswoman Amy Colodny said Mr. Theriault's ouster was fair. "It was our credit unions that objected to his presence," she said.
The National Association of Federal Credit Unions recently rejected Mr. Theriault's ad for its bimonthly magazine and told him that, as an exhibitor at its July 15-18 annual conference in Nashville, he may not hang posters or distribute materials mentioning charter conversion. "We're not in the business of promoting credit union conversions," said Timothy Pryor, NAFCU's associate general counsel.
Last year a Credit Union National Association official rejected a paid ad from Mr. Theriault because, the official wrote, "we do not believe converting to bank charters is in the best interests of credit unions or their members."
But Mr. Theriault has not given in. He is sending a charter conversion information package to more than 200 of the largest New York credit unions. He also recently sent a packet to several hundred NAFCU members, the envelope for which mentions a $250 raffle for visitors to his booth.