Magazine article American Banker

Ludwig's Paper Trail Looks Unlikely to Stoke Any Political Bonfires

Magazine article American Banker

Ludwig's Paper Trail Looks Unlikely to Stoke Any Political Bonfires

Article excerpt

Smoke does not always produce fire.

Eugene A. Ludwig provided Republican lawmakers plenty of kindling, but documents delivered to Capitol Hill last week include nothing that will send the comptroller of the currency up in flames.

The two-inch stack chronicles Mr. Ludwig's communication with 17 bankers since May 13-the day the comptroller attended a coffee at the White House organized by the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Ludwig exchanged 80 phone calls and 46 faxes with the bank CEOs-the bulk with Charles E. Rice, chairman and chief executive of Barnett Banks Inc.

Between May 14, 1996, and Jan. 13, 1997, the two talked on the phone 24 times. During that span of time, 27 faxes and letters were exchanged between Mr. Ludwig and Mr. Rice.

Former Wachovia Corp. chief executive John G. Medlin Jr. and Republic New York Corp. vice chairman Ernest Ginsberg placed second to Mr. Rice. Each banker had 16 phone conversations with Mr. Ludwig, and they each sent or received five faxes.

House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach's spokesman, David Runkel, said the extent of the comptroller's contact with bankers is inappropriate.

"These are not dealings with some bank technocrats about a banking proposal. These are contacts with the highest levels at these institutions," Mr. Runkel said. Rep. Leach, R-Iowa, has accused Mr. Ludwig of pressuring the banks he regulates to oppose legislation pending before House Banking.

"This raises enormous questions about the closeness between the regulator and the industry he regulates," Mr. …

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