CIT Group Inc. has hired Margaret Tutwiler, a former aide to three U.S. presidents and Chief Executive John A. Thain, to lead the lender's communications, marketing and government relations.

Tutwiler, 59, was a senior vice president and the head of global communications and public affairs at Merrill Lynch & Co., where Thain was CEO, according to a release Monday from New York-based CIT. Before that, she led global communications and government relations at NYSE Euronext, where Thain was also CEO.

Thain, 55, has been restocking CIT's senior ranks as part of a plan to recover from last year's bankruptcy. The turnaround depends in part on persuading regulators to loosen curbs on the company's banking unit so that CIT, one of the biggest U.S. lenders to small businesses, can get access to lower-cost funds.

During the presidency of George W. Bush, Tutwiler was under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. She held several posts in the State Department under former President George H.W. Bush and was a spokeswoman at the Treasury Department and a deputy assistant for political affairs under President Ronald Reagan.

"Margaret's extensive governmental affairs and communications experience will play an important role as we look to strengthen CIT's brand identity," Thain said in the release.

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