Magazine article American Banker

Clinton Backing OCC Chief in Uproar over Coffeegate.'(President Clinton Supports Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Head Eugene A. Ludwig in Campaign Contribution Scandal)

Magazine article American Banker

Clinton Backing OCC Chief in Uproar over Coffeegate.'(President Clinton Supports Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Head Eugene A. Ludwig in Campaign Contribution Scandal)

Article excerpt

Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig took a risk and it paid off big this week.

Yanked into the national spotlight Saturday when The Washington Post and The New York Times featured front-page stories about a meeting President Clinton held with bankers last year, Mr. Ludwig defied the White House and said he never should have been invited.

The comptroller's assertiveness paid off this week when White House officials retracted their position that there was nothing wrong with having a regulator at an event sponsored by the Democratic National Committee.

In fact, President Clinton is now backing Mr. Ludwig, saying at a press conference Tuesday that the comptroller "should have been told who was sponsoring it, and it would have been better had he not come."

White House officials have repeatedly said that participants at the meetings were not obligated to contribute to the president's campaign, and representatives of the bankers in attendance said donations were not discussed.

Still, President Clinton's campaign attracted more than $373,000 from the 17 banks represented at the meeting. Bob Dole only got $222,000 from the institutions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Mr. Ludwig is now being praised for his willingness to voice his opinion, even though it meant disagreeing with the White House.

"He's too intelligent a man to compromise the affairs of his office with a political endeavor," said O. Jay Tomson, chairman of First Citizens National Bank, Mason City, Iowa. "He had the backbone and personal fortitude to stand up and say what he believed, and that indicates how he feels about the independence of his office."

"Gene has handled this extremely well, and now the president has stepped up and backed him," said former comptroller Robert L. …

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