Congressional Aides Give Sen. D'Amato Low Marks

American Banker, July 6, 1998 | Go to article overview

Congressional Aides Give Sen. D'Amato Low Marks


Capitol Hill staffers do not hold Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato in high regard, according to a recent Washingtonian survey.

The magazine's annual "Best and Worst" rankings in its July issue included a poll of 1,200 top congressional aides on their opinions of lawmakers.

The New York Republican was voted both the No. 3 "biggest windbag" and "weakest spine" in the Senate. The magazine said he didn't make the "no altar boy/girl" category only because it was swept by Democratic senators Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Chuck Robb of Virginia, and Senate Banking's Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut. Whether Sen. D'Amato's selection as third "funniest" senator was a compliment is unclear.

Sen. D'Amato's most junior Republican colleague on Senate Banking fared much better. Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska was voted the No. 1 "freshman all-star."

House Republican Conference Chairman John A. Boehner, the point man on financial reform legislation, ranked No. 2 in the "no altar boy/girl" category on the House side.

Necessity remains the mother of invention even in the Information Age, according to banking lawyer and electronic commerce guru Thomas P. Vartanian.

At a reception of 75 banking industry insiders at the plush offices of the Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson law firm here last week, Mr. Vartanian and co-authors Robert H. Ledig and Lynn Bruneau unveiled their 653-page tome, "21st Century Money, Banking, & Commerce."

Mr. Vartanian, who is the head of Fried Frank's financial services practice, decided more than two years ago to write a definitive work on the topic because he got tired of photocopying and seeking copyright permission to use articles for a law school class he teaches at Georgetown University.

"I couldn't find any textbook that covered Internet banking and electronic commerce from the perspective of financial services and payments systems," he said, so "I decided to write the textbook myself."

The authors, however, faced a steep challenge in trying to keep up with the fast-paced changes in electronic banking. A flurry of decisions by the comptroller of the currency and other regulators last year as well as blossoming technology alliances among industry players threatened to outdate the book before it went on sale, he said.

Their solution: regularly update the text on the Internet. The first set of updates, dealing with the year-2000 problem and other issues, were scheduled to be posted at the end of last week.

And the book is selling like hotcakes on-line. Amazon.com sold 27 copies in June, Mr. Vartanian said.

Seeking to preserve their voting strength on the House Banking Committee, Democrats added Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. late last month.

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