WASHINGTON - A coalition of liberal advocacy groups has urged President Clinton to dump bank lawyer John D. Hawke as a candidate for under secretary of Treasury.
Although he has not been nominated, Mr. Hawke, a partner at Arnold & Porter, is known to the administration's choice for Treasury's top domestic post. The under secretary for domestic finance is the banking industry's main point of contact with the administration.
Though many bankers have been enthusiastic in their praise of Mr. Hawke, last week nine antipoverty and consumer organizations criticized the banking lawyer as too close to the industry and hostile to the Community Reinvestment Act.
"Mr. Hawke, as a banking lawyer and an officer of the Secura Group, one of the nation's biggest bank consulting firms, has long been associated with key elements of the banking industry's lobbying campaigns in the Congress and among the regulatory agencies," the groups said. Secura was an affiliate of Arnold & Porter.
The organizations said in a letter last Friday to President Clinton that they are concerned Mr. Hawke's views "are not consistent with the administration policies on these consumer and community issues."
However, Mr. Hawke said he hopes to sit down with representatives from the organizations, and expressed optimism that they would find much in common.
"I'm anxious to meet with them and demonstrate that share a common objective" in fair lending, he said. Mr. Hawke lauded the groups for their work on CRA, saying "the results they have achieved are truly impressive."
Mr. Hawke cited estimates that the Community Reinvestment Act has been responsible for billions of dollars in loans to low-income borrowers, and called that "a testament to the effectiveness of CRA."
Among those signing the letter were Ralph Nader, the longtime consumer activist; Maude Hurd, president of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now; John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition; and Robert Gnaizda, policy director of the Greenlining Coalition.
A Treasury spokesman declined to comment on the letter.
Edward L. Yingling, executive director of government relations for the American Bankers Association said the banking industry regards Mr. Hawke "as an excellent choice," and added that he has no reason to believe the nomination isn't on track.