N.Y. Times News Service
WASHINGTON _ In a striking example of how an interest group
can lay the groundwork to influence the government, the banking
industry has assembled a powerhouse team to take on the Clinton
administration and the new Congress.
The bankers are keenly interested in seeing banking
regulations relaxed and in being allowed to branch out across
state lines and to compete more directly against securities
firms. They are also watching carefully to see if new consumer
protections will be enacted.
The industry's biggest lobbying organization, the American
Bankers Association, has lined up bankers and lobbyists who have
been closely associated with President-elect Bill Clinton and who
wield great influence in the Democratic Party.
At the same time, people who worked for Clinton in Arkansas,
advised his campaign and the transition team or have close ties
to the banking industry are also under consideration by the new
administration for crucial regulatory posts.
Clinton has repeatedly promised to challenge the
special-interest groups that seek to turn campaign contributions
and political connections into influence over public policy.
"I think there is going to be a great reluctance by the
administration to let the banking lobbyists be effective," said
one banking lawyer who has advised the Clinton organization.
But since the election, Clinton has been criticized for
accommodating lobbyists and power brokers as he assembles his
economic team and designs his economic policies.
The lobbying team also faces an uphill fight in Congress:
lawmakers have little appetite for rolling back provisions of the
1991 banking bill, which the industry has complained bitterly
about. That legislation makes many new demands on bankers,
setting standards for how much capital they must have on hand and
what kind of risks they can incur.
The ABA recently named to its board Curt Bradbury, head of
Worthen National Bank, an Arkansas institution that has long
provided financial support for Clinton's political aspirations
and lent the Clinton campaign millions of dollars at critical
junctures during the campaign.
Even before the election, the ABA named as its new president
William Brandon, an Arkansas banker who, like Bradbury, has known
Clinton for many years.
Shortly after the election, the ABA hired two prominent
lawyers with close ties to Clinton.
One was Charles Manatt, a former banker and Democratic Party
chairman who was co-chairman of the Clinton campaign and whose
law partner is the campaign's director, Mickey Kantor, whom
Clinton has selected as the U.S. trade representative.
The other was Thomas Boggs, an influential lobbyist whose law
partners include Democratic Party chairman Ronald H. Brown, who
has been chosen to be commerce secretary.
"The ABA rightly thinks that it is time for an enlightened
rethinking of several banking issues, including the regulatory
burden and structural issues," Bradbury said in an interview.
"There are many fundamental issues that remain to be addressed,
and it is time to get active and aggressive. You see here the
precursors of a pretty good lobbying campaign."
Manatt said that like Boggs he had been retained by the ABA to
lobby Congress for legislation that would ease regulations that
the bankers consider burdensome, a role he called "perfectly
He said he would not in any way lobby the Clinton
administration or its regulatory agencies, which will be left
primarily to Edward Yingling, the ABA's full-time lobbyist.
(Yingling has a background in Arkansas politics as a former
staff aide to former Sen. J.W. Fulbright.)
And a leading candidate to become Clinton's point man on
banking, either as comptroller of the currency or as chairman of
the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. …