Monday, July 31, 2017

Large State Chartered CU CEOs 2015 Compensation Tops $1 Million

Chief executive officers at state chartered credit unions with at least $1 billion in assets reported an average total compensation of $1.021 million for 2015.

Median CEO compensation was $808,942 for 2015.

Compensation data are pulled from Form 990s filed by state chartered credit unions.

Federal credit unions are currently exempt from filing Form 990s and the National Credit Union Administration has not acted upon recommendations to require federal credit unions to disclose senior management compensation.

Total compensation includes base salary, bonus and incentives, other reportable income, retirement and deferred compensation, and nontaxable benefits.

DFCU Financial Credit Union (Dearborn, MI) did not disclose compensation information for its CEO and did not respond to request for this information. Advia Credit Union (Parchment, MI) did not disclose detail information on CEOs compensation in its Form 990 and only provided information regarding CEO's total compensation upon request. Lake Michigan Credit Union (Grand Rapids, MI) combined base and bonus & incentive compensation.

The mean base salary was $489,614. The average bonus and incentive pay was $148,449. The mean other compensation was $197,815. Retirement and deferred compensation was an average of $166,645.

Forty-nine credit union CEOs earned more than $1 million in 2015.

The highest paid CEO was James Jordan of Schools Financial Credit Union (Sacramento, CA) at $5.7 million. The next highest paid CEO was Teresa Halleck of San Diego County Credit Union (San Diego, CA) at almost $5.6 million.

Below is compensation data for each CEO (click on images to enlarge).

Thursday, July 27, 2017

NCUA Should Require Greater Transparency Regarding CEO Pay

The National Credit Union Administration's Voluntary Merger proposal would require a merging FCU to disclose to its members all merger-related financial arrangements in whatever form they may take that are paid to its CEO, the next four highest paid employees after the CEO, the board of directors, and the supervisory committee.

In justifying the proposal, the agency cites the need for transparency and disclosure so that members can make an informed decision about a merger.

Both Chairman McWatters and Board member Metsger invoked transparency numerous times during the May 25th Board meeting, when discussing the proposal.

If transparency and disclosure is so important, then why should the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) stop at requiring only the disclosure of merger-related financial arrangements?

NCUA should require all federal credit unions to reveal the pay of their CEOs and other highly paid employees.

Credit union members have the right to know.

This would ensure that federal credit unions are treated the same as other tax exempt organizations regarding the disclosure of executive compensation, including state chartered credit unions.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

NCUA Employees Earned an Average Pay of $121,180.88 in 2016

Employees at the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) earned an average pay (base and bonus) of $121,180.88 in 2016, according to

Seventy-nine employees earned $200,000 or more in 2016.

The following table discloses the salaries of the 10 highest paid employees.

Click here to access pay information.

New York City Taxi Medallions Valued at $358,000

Signature Bank in its earnings press release provided a new data point on the value of New York City taxi medallions.

According to its second quarter earnings release and conference call transcript, Signature Bank either reserved for or wrote down each New York City taxi medallion loan by approximately $168,000 to a value of $358,000.

This would suggest New York City taxi medallion loans held by credit unions are likely to be written down further.

Read the press release.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Taxation is Not an Existential Threat to Credit Unions

As Congress looks at reforming the U.S. tax code, credit union groups are arguing that the elimination of the credit union tax exemption would cause a dramatic decline in the number of credit unions.

For example, in a July 17 letter to Senators Hatch (R - UT) and Wyden (D - OR), Carrie Hunt, EVP for the National Association for Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), wrote: "Simply put, the tax exemption is an issue of survival for credit unions."

Hunt further wrote that "[i]f the tax exemption was removed, many would convert to banks or just go away."

Heaven forbid that a credit union converts to a bank.

It is a sad commentary that credit unions cannot survive without a federal subsidy.

I believe NAFCU is over-stating the impact of taxation on the credit union industry.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Unison Credit Union Buys Naming Rights to Youth Baseball Complex

Unison Credit Union (Kaukauna, WI) paid $375,000 to Kaukauna Youth Baseball for the naming rights to the organization's new baseball complex in Harrison.

The funds will be used to build four baseball diamonds. The facility will also include a concessions stand, restrooms, batting cages, a pavilion, a playground and 220 parking stalls.

Read the story.

Friday, July 21, 2017

NCUA Proposes to Close TCCUSF and Raise NCUSIF Equity Ratio to 1.39 Percent

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board is seeking comment on a proposed plan to close the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund (TCCUSF)and to raise the equity ratio of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) from 1.30 percent of insured shares to 1.39 percent of insured shares.

The TCCUSF was created in May 2009 to handle the resolution of failing corporate credit unions. Without the creation of the TCCUSF, the NCUSIF would have exhausted its retained earnings and would have impaired a significant portion of insured credit unions' one percent NCUSIF capitalization deposit.

The TCCUSF is currently scheduled to be closed in 2021; however, the Federal Credit Union Act gives the NCUA Board the authority to close it before the scheduled closure. The NCUA Board is proposing to close the TCCUSF in 2017.

At closing, the assets and liabilities of the TCCUSF would be distributed to the NCUSIF, as required by law. This distribution will increase the net position and equity ratio of the NCUSIF. NCUA is estimating that the year-end NCUSIF equity ratio will be between 1.45 percent and 1.47 percent of insured shares.

The Board noted that given the nature of the assets and liabilities of the TCCUSF, this could increase the potential volatility of the NCUSIF equity ratio.

The Federal Credit Union Act defines the normal operating level of the NCUSIF equity ratio as between 1.20 percent and 1.50 percent of insured shares.

NCUA proposes to raise the normal operating level to 1.39 percent to help ensure the Share Insurance Fund has sufficient equity to withstand a moderate recession without the equity ratio falling below 1.20 percent, at which point a premium or fund restoration plan would be required by statute.

The NCUA expects that credit unions will receive a NCUSIF distribution (dividend payment) between $600 million and $800 million for 2018.

Comments are due by September 5.

Read the press release.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Problem Credit Unions Increase During Q2 2017

The number of problem credit unions increased during the second quarter of 2017, according to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

At the end of the second quarter of 2017, there were 210 problem credit unions. In comparison, there were 197 problem credit unions at the end of the first quarter. A year earlier there were 209 problem credit unions.

A problem credit union has a composite CAMEL rating of 4 or 5.

Total assets and shares in problem credit unions rose during the quarter. Assets in problem credit unions were $10.6 billion at the end of the second quarter -- up from $9.5 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2017. Shares in problem credit unions increased by approximately $900 million during the second quarter to $9.4 billion.

NCUA reported that 89 percent of problem credit unions have less than $100 million in assets, while only 2 percent have more than $500 million in assets.

At the end of the second quarter, 0.88 percent of total insured shares were in problem credit unions. At the end of the first quarter, 0.83 percent of total insured shares were in problem credit unions.

On June 30, 2017, 0.80 percent of the industry assets were in problem credit unions -- this was an increase from 0.70 percent as of March 2017.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

IG: Four CUs Caused Losses to NCUSIF Between October 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017

Four credit unions caused losses to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) between October 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, according to a Semiannual Report to the Congress issued by the National Credit Union Administration's Office of the Inspector General (IG).

The IG did not perform a material loss review on these failures, because none of the failures resulted in a loss of $25 million or more to the NCUSIF.

The following charts name the credit union, the estimated loss to the NCUSIF, and reasons for the failure of the credit union.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Rochester Area CUs Sponsor Symetra Tour Golf Tournament

Rochester (NY) area credit unions are sponsoring the Symetra Tour's Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic.

The golf tournament is scheduled for the week of July 17 through July 23.

Sponsorships range in price from $1,000 for a hole sponsorship to as much as $100,000 for a featured sponsorship.

Numerous credit unions are title sponsors, including The Summit Federal Credit Union, Reliant Community Credit Union, Alloya Corporate Federal Credit Union, Xceed Financial Credit Union, Visions Federal Credit Union, SEFCU, Pittsford Federal Credit Union, Advantage Federal Credit Union, SPX Federal Credit Union, Family First Federal Credit Union, First Heritage Federal Credit Union, and Ukranian Federal Credit Union.

The Symetra Tour is a developmental golf tour for the LPGA Tour.

But is sponsoring a professional golf tournament the appropriate use of the credit union's tax exemption?

Go to the tournament's website.

Friday, July 14, 2017

166 CUs Borrowed from Fed's Discount Window During Q2 2015

One hundred sixty-six credit unions borrowed from the Federal Reserve's discount window during the second quarter of 2015. In comparison, 118 credit unions borrowed from the discount window during the first quarter of 2015.

These 166 credit unions borrowed from the discount window 192 times for the total amount borrowed of $101.3 million.

The average amount borrowed was $527,672, while the median amount borrowed was $10,000.

The maximum amount borrowed from the discount window was $10 million by two credit unions -- First Financial Credit Union (West Covina, CA) and Houston Federal Credit Union (Sugar Land, TX).

There were 32 discount window loans of $1 million or more during the second quarter of 2015.

Mill City Credit Union (Minnetonka, MN) visited the discount window 7 times during the quarter. Three credit unions visited the discount window 6 times each -- Glendale FCU (Glendale, CA), Services Center FCU (Yankton, SD), and Topline FCU (Maple Grove, MN).

All credit unions, except for four, borrowed under the Federal Reserve's primary credit program, which is reserved for only well run credit unions. One credit union borrowed from the seasonal credit program, while three credit unions borrowed from the secondary credit program.

The Federal Reserve is required by law to disclose with a two year delay information on borrowings from the Discount Window.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

NCUA Proposes Controversial Voluntary Merger Regulation

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) is in the process of amending its regulations that govern a voluntary merger of a federal credit union (FCU). The comment period runs through August 7.

The proposed rule would make several significant changes to NCUA's voluntary merger regulations.

In justifying the changes to its voluntary merger regulation, NCUA Board Member Metsger stated that "[t]he net worth of the credit union belongs to the members, and they deserve a full and transparent accounting of how it is going to be used."

However, this proposal is controversial and not without its critics.

The proposal would require the merging FCU to disclose to its members all merger-related financial arrangements in whatever form they may take that are paid to its CEO, the next four highest paid employees after the CEO, the board of directors, and the supervisory committee. NCUA believes that some prospective merger partners may be seeking to influence the merging credit union by offering financial incentives to management and certain highly compensated employees to support the merger. According to NCUA staff, between 75 percent to 80 percent of all voluntary mergers reviewed had significant merger-related compensation. The transcript from the May NCUA Board meeting noted that one credit union merger had a total payout in the low seven figures to about 18 different people with four people getting the bulk of the payout.

The proposal increases the minimum time period before the member vote that the merging FCU must give to its members. The proposed timeframe is no less than 45 days and no greater than 90 days. This should give the members of the merging FCU adequate time to consider the information.

This proposal would add procedures to enable members to communicate with each other on a large scale regarding the merger. Under this proposed rule, the agency borrowed member-to-member communication provisions from its rule regarding conversion to mutual savings banks. This will allow members to share information and have discussions prior to the membership vote. This will also provide dissenting members with an opportunity to make their views known to the general membership, in hope of torpedoing the merger.

This proposal also revises and clarifies the content and format of the member notice that credit unions must send, and it makes conforming amendments to other provisions in various parts of our regulations to accommodate for these changes.

If adopted, the proposal could make voluntary mergers of FCUs less attractive.

In addition, the NCUA Board is seeking input on whether the proposed voluntary merger rule should be extended to all federally-insured credit unions, just not FCUs. The agency worries that its proposed rule, when finalized, could shift merger targets from FCUs to state chartered credit unions.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Kohler CU Buys Naming Rights to High School Gymnasium

Kohler Credit Union (Kohler, WI) will pay the Mequon-Thiensville School District $150,000 for the naming rights of the gymnasium at Homestead High School.

The naming rights agreement is for 15 years with signage both inside and outside the gymnaium.

The credit union will make payments in three increments of $50,000 to the school district in 2017, 2022, and 2027.

The credit union will also operate a branch in the high school, as well as an ATM. The credit union will support the school district's financial literacy efforts.

Read the terms of the agreement.

Read the story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

BankThink: Common Bond Is Heading in the Direction of Being Meaningless

In a BankThink opinion piece appearing in the July 10 American Banker, Aaron Klein, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and policy director at the Center on Regulation and Markets, argues that credit union field of membership restrictions have been watered down and is headed towards being meaningless.

For example, he notes that some credit unions are advertising "great rates for everyone."

But he believes that this would have profound consequences for the credit union industry and such radical changes should be openly debated -- not done through legal loopholes and regulatory arbitrage.

He pointed out that National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman McWatters is a cheerleader for the eradication of common bond, as he recently advocated that Congress should expand the definition of common bond to include web-based communities as a basis of a charter. Klein does acknowledge that McWatters raised valid questions about geographic boundaries in a cyber world.

Klein wrote: "Expanding the definition of common bond to meaningless levels ... appears to be a direction the industry and its regulator is heading."

Klein believes that the public and policymakers need to stop and think about these changes.

Read the BankThink piece.

Monday, July 10, 2017

NCUA to CFPB Exempt Large CUs from CFPB Exam and Enforcement Authority

National Credit Union Administration Chairman J. Mark McWatters on July 6 wrote Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray to request CFPB provide an exemption for credit unions with assets of more than $10 billion from its examination and enforcement authority.

Section 1025 of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) of 2010 gives CFPB primary enforcement authority for consumer financial protection law over insured depository institutions with assets of more than $10 billion.

Currently, six federally insured credit unions (FICUs) — Navy Federal Credit Union, State Employees’ Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Boeing Employees Credit Union, Schools​First Federal Credit Union, and The Golden 1 Credit Union—have assets of $10 billion or more.

McWatters wrote that the CFPB should distinguish between for-profit, investor-owned and -controlled financial institutions versus not-for-profit, member-owned and -controlled financial institutions.

McWatters noted that section 1025 of the CFPA imposes unnecessarily burdensome costs on credit unions.

Moreover, McWatters is critical of the CFPB's use of punitive fines on FICUs, the primary method of enforcement available to the CFPB. I suspect McWatters is referring to the $28.5 million fine assessed on Navy Federal Credit Union for its illegal debt collection practices.

McWatters said this requested change would not affect CFPB’s exclusive rulemaking authority over federally insured credit unions, and the CFPB would still be able to take enforcement action if it determined NCUA was not adequately enforcing consumer protection laws.

But in case the CFPB refuses his request to exempt large FICUs from CFPB examination and enforcement authority, McWatters stated that the CFPB should at least conduct all FICU examinations jointly with the NCUA going forward.

Read the letter.

Read the press release.

Consumer Credit at Credit Unions Grew at Slower Pace in May

The Federal Reserve is reporting on July 10th that outstanding consumer credit at credit unions grew in May, but at a slower pace than in April.

Outstanding consumer credit at credit unions was $401.5 billion in May, up from $398.2 billion in April.

In other words, consumer credit increased at an annualized growth rate of $38.8 billion in May. This was down from an annualized April growth rate of $135.9 billion.

Revolving credit increased by almost $800 million in May to approximately $53.2 billion.

Nonrevolving credit grew by almost $2.5 billion in May to about $348.3 billion.

Read the G.19 report.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Arkansas Federal Credit Union Looking to Buy a Bank

Arkansas Federal Credit Union (Jacksonville, AR) is looking to buy a bank that is deposit rich but does not have a ton of loans.

According to, the $1.1 billion asset credit union has already spoken to two banks about a possible merger.

The immediate focus is on banks located near Little Rock; but not with branches near the credit union's branches.

The credit union intends to be the first Arkansas credit union to acquire a bank.

Read the story.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Michigan CU Settles with Justice Department over Illegal Repossession of Servicemembers' Vehicles

The Justice Department announced on July 6 that COPOCO Community Credit Union, based in Bay City, Michigan, has agreed to a settlement to resolve allegations that it illegally repossessed four servicemembers’ vehicles.

The Justice Department launched an investigation after it received a complaint in October 2015 from Alyssa Carriveau, the wife of U.S. Army Private First Class Christian Carriveau, alleging that COPOCO had illegally repossessed their car. On July 26, 2016, the Justice Department sued the credit union over its alleged violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by repossessing cars owned by protected servicemembers without first obtaining the required court orders.

Under the agreement, COPOCO must change its policies and compensate four servicemembers whose cars COPOCO unlawfully repossessed.

Specifically, "[t]he agreement requires COPOCO to provide $10,000 in compensation to each of the affected servicemembers, plus any lost equity in the vehicle with interest. The Carriveaus, who had their car returned to them the day after the repossession at the department’s request, will receive $7,500. COPOCO also must repair the credit of all affected servicemembers, pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the United States and determine, in the future, whether any vehicle it is planning to repossess is owned by an active duty servicemember. If so, COPOCO will not repossess the vehicle without first obtaining a court order or valid waiver of SCRA rights. The agreement also contains provisions ensuring that all eligible servicemembers will receive the benefit of the SCRA’s six percent interest rate cap on their auto loans."

Read the press release.

Read the settlement agreement.

Navy Federal Credit Union Sued over Its Overdraft Program

Credit Union Today is reporting that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Navy Federal Credit Union alleging breach of contract over its overdraft program.

The plaintiffs, Jenna Lloyd and Jamie Plemons, allege they sustained monetary damages as the result of being charged with the optional overdraft protection services.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on June 22.

Read the story.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Black Hills FCU's Gerrymandered Rural District Charter

Black Hills Federal Credit Union (Rapid City, SD) is using the rural district loophole to connect South Dakota's two largest distinct metropolitan areas by population size. One metropolitan area is in the eastern part of the state and the other is in the western part of the state.

The credit union has used the rural district geographic common-bond to expand its footprint across the state on three different occasions.

In March 2011, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) granted Black Hill'a rural district community charter serving the South Dakota counties of Pennington, Meade, Haakon, Hughes, or Stanley.

In July 2015, NCUA approved a second expansion of Black Hills' rural district adding the counties of Butte, Buffalo, Hyde, Jerauld, Lincoln, McCook, Miner, Sanborn, Sully, or Turner.

In May 2017, NCUA approved an expansion of a rural district community common-bond for Black Hills Federal Credit Union (Rapid City, SD) to include Minnehaha County, the state's most populous county.

The addition of Minnehaha County raised the potential population for this rural district to 431,701, as Black Hills FCU exploits NCUA's recently amended field of membership final rule that raised the population threshold for a rural district from 250,000 to 1 million.

This rural district snakes its way across South Dakota from the Montana-Wyoming border to the Minnesota-Iowa border.

This rural district includes three core-based statistical areas -- two metropolitan statistical areas and a micropolitan statistical area.

Each of these core-based statistical areas are distinct well-defined local communities.

Almost 95 percent of the people living in this rural district reside in the three core-based statistical areas.

It appears that the credit union is using rural counties to create a bridge from one metro area to another metro area.

In fact, Black Hills FCU does not have a branch in truly rural counties, such as Haakon, Buffalo, Butte, Jerauld, Hyde, Miner, and Sanborn. However, according to its current profile, the credit union has already opened a branch in Minnehaha County, which it just added.

This gerrymandered rural district is rural in name only. NCUA's decision to approve this rural district is arbitrary and capricious.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

MidFlorida Credit Union Settles Overdraft Class Action Lawsuit

Credit Union Times is reporting that MidFlorida Credit Union (Lakeland, FL) will pay $2.375 million to settle a class action lawsuit regarding its overdraft fee practices.

The settlement requires the credit union to pay members for overdraft fees assessed between November 24, 2010, and January 15, 2016, if those fees occurred when the member had sufficient ledger balances but insufficient available balances.

Approximately 27,500 accounts were affected.

Read the story.

FCUs Taking Advantage of New Rural District FOM

Federal credit unions are taking advantage of the new, higher population threshold for a rural district.

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) raised the population threshold for a rural district from 250,000 to 1 million. But NCUA eliminated the alternate population limit of 3 percent of the population of the state in which the majority of the rural district members reside.

In May, NCUA approved three rural districts with populations in excess of the old threshold of 250,000. The credit unions are Black Hills FCU (Rapid City, SD), Rocket FCU (McGregor, TX), and Marshland Community FCU (Brunswick, GA).

Under the old rule, the two credit unions in Georgia and Texas could have had rural districts with populations in excess of 250,000; but not exceeding 3 percent of the state's population. However, Black Hills would have been capped at a population limit of 250,000.

In comparison, only 8 federal credit unions between 2013 and 2016 were approved to serve rural districts with populations in excess of 250,000. According to NCUA, the eight credit unions were Red River Employees (Texarkana, TX), MobilOil (Beaumont, TX), Neches (Port Neches, TX), 1st Community (San Angelo, TX), Complex Community (Odessa, TX), Sidney (Sidney, NY), Sun Community (El Centro, CA), and Interstate Unlimited (Jesup, GA).

The final rule went into effect on February 6, 2017.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Canadian CUs Can't Use the Words Bank, Banker, and Banking

Canada's Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) on June 30th issued an advisory that restricts the use of the words “bank”, “banker” and “banking”.

OSFI has observed increased use of the words “bank”, “banker” and “banking” by non-bank financial service providers.

The restrictions apply to all non-bank financial service providers, including both federally regulated trust and loan companies and provincially regulated institutions. They also apply to unregulated financial service providers.

While the Advisory went into effect immediately, OFSI will give non-banks time to comply with the Advisory and established timelines for websites, print materials, and physical signage to come into compliance.

The Advisory also provides an exception to these restrictions, where the use of the words is not in relation to a financial services business.

The Canadian Credit Union Association criticized the Advisory and called on the federal government to reverse the OFSI's advisory.

Read the press release.

New York City Taxi Medallion Prices in June Show Further Signs of Distress

New York City taxi medallion prices continue to fall in June.

The nine medallion asset sales ranged in price from $150,000 to $475,000. Six medallions sold for $230,000 or less.

This would suggest more pain for credit union taxi medallion loan portfolios.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Financial Trades Urge Congress Address Bias in CDFI Fund Allocation Process

Seven financial trade associations urged lawmakers to include in the upcoming appropriations bill language that would explicitly reaffirm Congress’ intent that the Community Development Financial Institutions program support the entire diverse CDFI sector.

The CDFI Fund’s current evaluation process combines all CDFI institutions -- which include both regulated bank and credit union CDFIs and unregulated nonprofit loan and venture capital funds -- into a single applicant pool. Bias in the process has resulted in non-regulated CDFIs receiving a disproportionate amount of funds in the 20-year period between 1996 and 2016. In fact, non-regulated loan funds received 81 percent of the funds during that time, while the nation’s regulated CDFIs -- which together represent 50 percent of all CDFI entities and 90 percent of total assets in the CDFI sector -- received less than 20 percent of CDFI funding, the trade associations said.

The letter suggested legislative language that would address this disparity and ensure funds are awarded proportionally.

The groups recommended adding the following language to the end of 12 USC 4706(b):

“and diverse applicants by institution type, which shall include all types of Insured Community Development Financial Institutions as defined by 12 USC 4702(c((13) and non-insured Community Development Financial Institutions in proportion to their representation by number in each application pool.”

The trade groups also recommended accompanying report language:

“Congress directs the CDFI Fund to ensure that its CDFI Program evaluation process results in a diverse group of awardees by institutional type, including Insured Community Development Financial Institutions that are banks, bank holding companies, and credit unions and non-insured CDFIs that are loan funds and venture that is proportional by number to the applicant pool for each funding round.”

“To fulfill Congressional intent, it is important for the CDFI Fund to serve the entire CDFI industry – not just one subsector,” the groups said.

Read the letter.

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