Bud Wilson, an independent insurance agent in San Diego, is about as politically connected as a man can be without actually holding elective office.

He's a veteran of Ronald Reagan's gubernatorial campaigns, plays a role in numerous local election efforts, and is finance chairman of Gov. Pete Wilson's presidential bid.

Also heavily involved in charitable work, he is "a pillar of San Diego" community life, according to Robert Rusbuldt, a lobbyist for the Independent Insurance Agents of America.

And before Congress returns to work in September, Bud Wilson will be sitting down with his congressional representative, Republican Brian Bilbray, to explain why he should oppose legislation permitting affiliations between banks and insurance companies.

"I'm going to tell him that the issue is whether banks will be banks - or involved in mainstream commerce," said Mr. Wilson. "It's a little unfair when people go into a bank to get a loan and the banker says, Hey, why don't we take a look at your insurance needs too."

It's a scene that will be repeated perhaps hundreds of times over the August recess. With lawmakers on break for nearly a month, trade groups are encouraging members like Bud Wilson to put a human face on issues that seem dry beyond belief in Capitol Hill debates.

"There's no doubt in my mind that having small-business owners - real, live, voting people - sit down with members of Congress is the most effective way to lobby," Mr. Rusbuldt said.

"It's a chance to get quality time with a member, without being interrupted by quorum calls or floor votes," added Paul Schosberg, president of America's Community Bankers, the thrift trade group.

Mr. Schosberg's organization is focusing on the proposed fix for the Savings Association Insurance Fund, and he expects his members to talk to lawmakers in each of the 50 states. His message: "Move the process forward."

In order to move the process forward, the thrift group is more than willing to delay action on larger issues, such as merging the thrift and banking industries. As a result, Mr. Schosberg's members will find themselves competing with bankers who are carrying a different message to the same elected representatives.

The American Bankers Association, for example, is asking member bankers to tell lawmakers that they object to paying for a thrift fund bailout if the thrift and bank charters aren't merged.

"Our basic message is we don't like the concept of a Band-Aid fix at our expense," said Edward L. Yingling, the group's top lobbyist.

Meanwhile, the Independent Bankers Association of America is aiming its fire at the same target the insurance agents have sighted: an amendment sponsored by Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., that would permit banks and insurance companies to affiliate in most states.

In an Aug. 10 letter, the IBAA urged its members to attend town hall meetings with lawmakers, schedule face-to-face visits, and make an effort to "strengthen your personal relationship with your federal legislators."

As it happens, August isn't the easiest time to lobby members. On other congressional recesses, members stick pretty close to home. But August is a time many lawmakers try to squeeze in a vacation - particularly this year, after the grinding pace set by the House Republican leaders.

But this year's end-of-summer break could be particularly important. A short list of major issues could come up for floor votes in late September and the contacts that financial services industry executives make during the break will still be fresh in the minds of lawmakers then.

And Mr. Rusbuldt, for one, thinks the messages his members will pass on during the break has the potential to change the way a lawmaker thinks on an issue.

"It's always a dose of reality for a member of Congress to be back home," he said.

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