WASHINGTON Texas community banker Don Powell is President-elect Bushs choice to lead the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., industry and government sources have told American Banker.
The two men met Friday, and the President-elect was expected to announce his intention to nominate Mr. Powell as early as today, the sources said.
Mr. Powell is the president and chief executive officer of $352 million-asset First National Bank of Amarillo and the chairman of Texas A&M Universitys board of regents an appointment he received from Governor Bush in 1995.
Mr. Powell did not return phone calls seeking comment Friday, and the Bush-Cheney transition office would not comment.
However, the Texas banker is a member of the Bush inner circle and was a point man for bankers who wanted to get involved in the campaign. Mr. Powell was one of at least 20 Texas bankers among fundraising leaders for the campaign.
It was unclear Friday where Mr. Powell stands on deposit insurance reform an issue FDIC Chairman Donna Tanoue has been pushing since March. Her term expired in October, though she has continued to serve in the post. Her ties to the Democratic Party have marked her for replacement.
Mr. Powells status as a community banker is encouraging to the small bank representatives that have led the fight for doubling the level of deposit coverage, to $200,000 per account.
Anybody in community banking in Texas during the hard times of the early 1990s has to recognize the vital importance of federal deposit insurance for maintaining and attracting core deposits, said Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Community Bankers of America.
On the other hand, Mr. Powell is also a longtime friend of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, an ardent foe of raising coverage.
Sen. Gramm was said to be hoping that Mr. Powell would be nominated, and sources said the chairman would push for his confirmation.
Don is very well connected politically throughout the state, said Chris Williston, president and chief executive officer of the Independent Bankers Association of Texas. He is regarded as one of Texas best.
Fellow Texas bankers said Mr. Powell is not a partisan warrior, but a businessman who is adept at making deals.
Don is a dynamo of energy, said Patrick Hickman, chief executive officer of First State Bank of Happy, Tex., who formerly worked with Mr. Powell. The thing I admire most about him is that Ive never seen a guy who could put a deal together as well as he can. It could be the worst deal in the world, and he could turn around and make it work.
Indeed, Mr. Powell is credited with saving his small bank in Amarillo, which was cited by The New York Times as one of those most likely to fail in the late 1980s. Through public stock offerings and earnings growth, Mr. Powell was able to revive the banks fortunes within a few years, and was awarded with a bottle of champagne from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in 1994.
He has served as chairman of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, campaign chairman for the United Way, and a member of the High Plains Baptist Hospital Board. He was named Man of the Year by the Amarillo Globe News in 1986.
Observers said state Democratic officials likely would not complain about the appointment.
I would be surprised if he had any problems with any of the Democratic base in the state, Mr. Williston said. Don has devoted his life to banking and service in the community, and not so much in politics.
Mr. Hickman said he could not see Mr. Powells appointment as a partisan one. Don would be very even-handed.
Lisa Daigle contributed to this article.