A number of bank trade group executives left the daily Washington grind last week and headed for the Atlanta Olympics to root for the home team.
Independent Bankers Association of America chief Kenneth Guenther managed to push through the traffic jams and crowds to catch the opening ceremony July 19.
"Once you got in the stadium, it was absolutely fantastic. But getting there was pure trial and tribulation," he said. Mr. Guenther joined a host of other banker types, such as BankAmerica Corp.'s former CEO, Richard M. Rosenberg, who were guests of Visa U.S.A.
Joe Belew, president of the Consumer Bankers Association, managed to secure tickets to the women's gymnastics finals. His reaction after he snagged the coveted tickets: "Awesome."
Donald G. Ogilvie, executive vice president of the American Bankers Association, also managed to escape Washington for the centennial games. Mr. Ogilvie took in a volleyball match and some Olympic baseball.
But it wasn't all fun and games for Washington insiders attending the Olympics. Doyle Bartlett, Rep. Bill McCollum's top banking aide, was reportedly lobbying for legislation to shore up the thrift insurance fund over the phone from Atlanta.
Charles Keating Jr. may have fallen from grace, but his grandson, Gary Hall Jr., didn't falter when he swam to glory at the Olympics.
Mr. Hall, 21, won a silver medal in the men's 100-meter freestyle competition July 22. Mr. Keating reportedly cheered his grandson on from his federal prison cell in Tucson, Ariz.
The colorful former thrift executive and poster boy of the savings and loan crisis is serving a sentence for fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy.
Mr. Keating told The Washington Post last week that his grandson doesn't mind his notoriety.
"He's had no inhibitions about my being in prison," Mr. Keating said. "It doesn't bother him, except he wants to win more."
Sen. Sheila Frahm hurried to the Ritz Carlton hotel in Northern Virginia last week to address the Kansas Bankers Association. The Senate's newest member was reportedly called to the hotel by her staff, who were concerned that Rep. Sam Brownback was scoring points with the crowd.
Sen. Frahm and Rep. Brownback are squaring off in the Aug. 6 GOP primary for one of the two Senate seats up for grabs in Kansas this year. Sen. Frahm took office by appointment after Bob Dole stepped down six weeks ago.
Sen. Frahm told the Kansas Bankers that she joined the Senate Banking Committee because "we want a bank in each of our communities."
"Kansas is different than New York, certainly," she noted. But Senate Banking Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., is committed to the issues that Kansas bankers care about, such as regulatory relief, she said.
Although new to the Senate, Sen. Frahm got to keep Mr. Dole's premier office. "No other senator wanted to pay out of his budget for the move," she explained.
The Office of Thrift Supervision has tapped John L. von Seggern to be the agency's executive director for external affairs.
Mr. von Seggern, the agency's point man on efforts to rescue the thrift fund, has been acting external affairs director for the past year.
Mr. von Seggern, 38, oversees the agency's relations with Congress and is one of five executive directors who comprise the executive committee. He's been leading the agency's efforts to get Congress to approve a legislative solution to the thrift-fund crisis.
Jonathan Fiechter, acting director of the OTS, praised Mr. von Seggern's ability to "take complex financial issues and distill them into easily understandable terms."
Mr. von Seggern joined the agency in 1990 as a congressional liaison and was named director of congressional affairs in 1995. Previously, he was a captain in the U.S. Air Force. He earned his undergraduate degree in finance from Colorado State University and did graduate work at the University of South Dakota.