Former top executives at Fannie Mae, PMI Group Inc. and Countrywide Financial Corp. have started a group that will lobby on behalf of independent, community and regional mortgage banking firms.

The Community Mortgage Banking Project has 26 members and is talking with eight prospective ones, said its founder, Glen Corso, a former senior vice president for PMI, a mortgage insurer.

His partners in the project include Robert Engelstad, a former senior vice president at Fannie, and Pete Mills, who was Countrywide's top lobbyist in Washington. (Countrywide is now a part of Bank of America Corp.)

Corso said the group would not compete with the Mortgage Bankers Association per se but would be involved in lobbying and in legislative and regulatory analysis on behalf of its members.

The Community Mortgage Banking Project said it is a not-for-profit company, but Corso said that for tax purposes it will not file as a nonprofit (nonprofits enjoy certain federal tax breaks). The MBA is a nonprofit organization whose annual results are publicly available.

Corso said his group would stay away from holding trade shows and involvement in educational programs — two major sources of revenue for the MBA.

Corso is a founding member of the Warehouse Lending Project. That group has been lobbying for government help with efforts to increase nonbanks' warehouse lending capacity.

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