The Wisconsin Credit Union League has launched a campaign to block Citizens Community Federal Credit Union's conversion to a mutual savings bank.
Advertisements in the May 9 and May 11 Eau Claire Leader Telegram warn members that they will lose their credit union if the conversion is approved. "If you believe that being a credit union member is the best deal, then all you have to do is vote no," the ads say.
Officials at Eau Claire-based Citizens Community questioned the propriety of the advertisements.
"We find these ads disturbing, as the league is not part of this process, nor do they represent the interests of our members," Citizens Community executive vice president Thomas J. Maday said in a statement released Tuesday.
Citizens Community lawyer Eric Luse said that in his 20-year career he had never seen a trade group "interfere" in a charter conversion.
"This is a first," he said
But Ronald G. Halvorsen, president of the league, said his group has done nothing wrong. "Sticking up for credit unions and credit union members is what we do," he said. "It is our main purpose in life."
Idly watching 14,000 members "lose their credit union" would be tantamount to saying "that being a bank was better," Mr. Halvorsen said.
Wisconsin regulators, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the National Credit Union Administration have approved the conversion to a state-chartered mutual thrift. Depositors will vote next month.