CUNA Calls on Gingrich to Clarify CU Comments (Misc News: January 25, 2012)
GOP Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich repeated his claim that credit unions are government sponsored enterprises during a debate in Tampa, Fla. on Monday night, inciting the ire of some industry leaders.
Gingrich made the statement while defending his work for Freddie Mac, the federally chartered mortgage giant from whom he reportedly collected more than $1.6 million in consulting fees.
"Government-sponsored enterprises include, for example, telephone cooperatives, rural electric cooperatives, federal credit unions. There are many different kinds of government-sponsored enterprises, and many of them have done very good things," Gingrich said.
Gingrich made a similar statement during another Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, late last year.
In a guest column for CU Times, former NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar attempts to set the record straight.
Credit unions are private entities, organized by their own individual members under charters authorized by federal and state agencies, that are structured as not-for-profit financial cooperatives owned and operated by those member-owners themselves through a democratic process. They receive no direct government support or guarantees. Their assets are not owned by the government, nor guaranteed by them. They have no guaranteed rate of return. There is no direct appropriation that goes from Congress to either individual credit unions or, frankly, even to their federal regulatory agency which is funded by the regulated and insured credit unions themselves.
Dollar further added that while it is a first to see credit unions brought into a presidential debate, it would do all political candidates and elected leaders well to understand the facts about credit unions and the role they play in today’s economy.
Several fact-checking websites including the Washington Post and PolitiFact have also called out Gingrich for his mischaracterization of credit unions.
CUNA Executive Vice President John Magill reached out to the Gingrich campaign, urging the candidate to clarify any future comments about credit unions, adding that Gingrich has a record of supporting the industry. Magill cited Gingrich's role in enacting the Credit Union Membership Act of 1998, which helped ensure credit unions could continue to grow.