The Lobbyists: Thrifts Insist They're Not Caving on Reform

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America's Community Bankers is trying to squelch speculation that the group's lobbying power on financial reform has been undermined by its proposed merger with the American Bankers Association.

Within days of the merger announcement, ACB president Paul A. Schosberg wrote House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and other key lawmakers to insist his group will continue to fight for its priorities. Our public policy objectives, reflective of our members' needs and goals, are firmly in place, he wrote late last month. We will betray neither our principles nor our allies.

The ACB and ABA adamantly disagree on the ability of unitary thrifts to merge with commercial companies. ABA officials also said they have no plans to change their legislative strategies.

It's going to be odd, a House Banking Committee staffer said. The ABA in some sense is co-opting the ACB.... It will make it a lot harder for the ACB to say 'These goddamn banks' in arguing its positions.

But others on Capitol Hill said the proposed merger has not undercut thrift lobbyists so far. Both sides are continuing to lobby their positions, a Senate Banking Committee staffer said. I don't think it would have any consequence for the short term.

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley is using high-tech financial services in his effort to defeat Al Gore.

In response to an inquiry by Bill Bradley for President Inc., the Federal Election Commission issued an advisory opinion that campaign committees may obtain federal matching funds for debit and credit card contributions received over the Internet.

The FEC cleared the way earlier this summer with a rule that permits matches for debit and credit card payments up to $250 per contributor -- as with more traditional payment methods. …