Tennessee CEOs Claim Traction in Protest ‘Declaration’

CU Times - 3-30-2011

A group of credit union CEOs and top managers, mostly from Tennessee and North Carolina, claimed progress Tuesday in winning support from Congress and the industry in a grassroots bid to halt what they said are damaging policies of NCUA and regulatory agencies as they also pursue rescinding the Durbin interchange amendment.

"We do understand that Congress is busy and we want to give each member of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committee time they need but we do expect a full read of our Declaration of Grievances," explained David Proffitt, coordinator of the fledgling ‘Declaration’ protest group and president/CEO of the $166 million Alcoa Tenn FCU.

Proffitt maintained that the 32-member "Committee on Declaration of Grievances," which drafted and circulated a sevenpage letter of complaints to lawmakers earlier this month, received its latest evidence of support in emails and phone calls from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican.

A spokesperson for the senator acknowledged that the Washington office "has been in touch with them regarding their concerns," noting also that the Tennessee senator had indeed opposed the Dodd-Frank bill. On that score, the spokeswoman said that the senator is actually "sponsoring legislation to stop implementation of the Durbin amendment."

On a broader scale, the Proffitt group, which stresses it is not trying to undermine formal lobbying by CUNA or NAFCU but believes its grievance manifesto demands immediate attention, said also it has received an untold number of phone calls, emails and blog commentary from CEOs across the country supporting its cause.

Meanwhile, CUNA officials have emphasized that they sympathize with goals of the Tennessee group and are anxious to continue a "dialogue" with the committee "so we can work together."

The Alcoa CEO, however, has said that his group, representing many small CUs in the Knoxville area and in North Carolina and Ohio, seeks to pursue an "independent" course because its members feel so strongly about the industry’s current condition.

"We feel our declaration which we took weeks to write sends a powerful message for regulatory change to the Congressional committees as they review this debacle that has taken place over the last two to three years imposed by regulators on our member taxpayers and something that will continue at least another 10 years," forecast Proffitt.

"Our committee recognizes that Congress is the only body which can change what we have described in our declaration, not the trade groups and certainly not the NCUA and other federal agencies," said Proffitt. "Our goal is not to be just a news story representing a group of complainers. These are real and substantive issues that have to be addressed and changed for the financial welfare of our member taxpayers."