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Donovan: 360-Degree Advocacy Attacks Issues from All Angles
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 6:55 AM

During last week's Leadership Conference and Expo in San Antonio, Credit Union National Association's Ryan Donovan, chief advocacy officer, provided an update on the national advocacy front.

Donovan said that CUNA's overarching advocacy goal is to ensure a favorable operating environment for credit unions to serve their members. In coordination with the league system, the advocacy agenda is to reduce regulatory burden, enhance payment security, preserve the credit union tax status, and expand credit union powers.

Donovan described a fierce and bold 360-degree advocacy plan that attacks issues from all angles and saturates policymakers with messages in Washington and the states that the CUNA/league system is a united army for credit unions.

In citing recent wins for credit unions, Donovan pointed to repelling bank attacks, enhancing credit union charters, holding companies experiencing data compromises accountable, credit union rebates from the credit union stabilization fund, defeating the CFPB arbitration rule, increased CDFI funding, and regulatory relief in the passage of S. 2155.

The outlook for Congress in the near term includes the likely Kavanaugh confirmation and government funding prior to the next recess. Donovan also advises credit unions to keep an eye on the jobs 3.0 package, which should provide additional regulatory relief, and the tax corrections bill during lame-duck session.

With regard to the recent acceleration of bank attacks and an attempt to disrupt national trades, Donovan points to new leadership at ICBA with something to prove. The credit union movement's success on S. 2155 and HR1, where credit unions won and banks lost, created pressure on bank trades to deliver. But overall, the bank playbook hasn't changed.

Litigation threats continue, and CUNA is enhancing litigation advocacy resources to defend against those threats, Donovan said.

The midterm elections could result in several different scenarios:

  • Election Scenario 1 is that the Blue Wave would give the Democrats the House, but the GOP would hold the Senate. In this scenario, Donovan sees a low likelihood of legislative progress, investigation and oversight of the Trump administration, and possible review of credit union powers, data breaches, jobs 3.0, and a BCFP commission.
  • In Election Scenario 2, the Blue Wave comes to full fruition, which means that the Democrats take both the House and the Senate.
  • In Election Scenario 3, the Red Wall holds and further regulatory relief is possible, along with tax reform 2.0.


Donovan recommends credit unions get ready with their advocacy checklists. Run Project Zip Code, get your CULAC signed permission agreements for PAC, and consider the Member Activation Program, all of which are included in Cornerstone Credit Union League's ROAR program.

As far as individual checklists, Donovan suggests that credit union advocates stay informed and attend CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, DC, participate in district-level meetings, and volunteer on political campaigns.