The Bankers Roundtable remains mum about who will be its new executive director, but many observers interpret the silence as a sign that the association's chances of hiring Rep. Bill Paxon are waning.

The trade group is competing with numerous corporations, lobbying firms, and others for the New York Republican, who did not run for reelection in November.

"He has a number of offers to choose from, but he has not made up his mind what he is going to do," said Robert A. Rusbuldt, executive vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents of America, who had lunch with Rep. Paxon this month.

Sources question whether the Roundtable, which paid Tony Cluff $406,296 last year, would be lucrative enough because Rep. Paxon could make nearly $1 million a year at a big lobbying shop. Some sources now consider former Rep. Steve Bartlett of Dallas the likely choice.

Roundtable president Richard M. Kovacevich, who also is chief executive officer of Wells Fargo & Co., declined to discuss the search efforts. Mr. Cluff, who announced his retirement plans nine months ago, is expected tostay until his successor is found.

A reorganization at the Office of Thrift Supervision yielded promotions for Scott M. Albinson and Timothy Burniston.

Mr. Albinson, formerly a special assistant to deputy director Richard M. Riccobono, has been named managing director of the office of supervision, a new position. His office will oversee new thrift applications as well as industrywide performance and examination schedules. Mr. Riccobono previously supervised those operations.

Mr. Burniston, formerly head of compliance policy, has been named managing director of the office of compliance policy and specialty examinations. His responsibilities include oversight of a new department, the office of technology risk management, which supervises Internet banking.

"This new structure will enable us to streamline the applications review process, improve our support of the regions in supervising institutions, and enhance the coordination of our trust and information technology functions," said OTS Director Ellen Seidman.

Despite reservations, Rep.-elect Charles Gonzalez will follow in his father's footsteps and join the House Banking Committee when the new Congress convenes Jan. 6.

The Democratic freshman from San Antonio won the seat his father, former House Banking Committee Chairman Henry B. Gonzalez, had held since 1961. The senior Rep. Gonzalez did not to run for reelection in November.

The younger Gonzalez had hoped to establish his own niche on another panel but all along acknowledged that Banking was his best chance for a prominent committee assignment.

House Democrats on Dec. 19 tapped Rep.-elect Gonzalez and six others to fill openings on the committee. Other freshmen joining the committee are: Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts, Dennis Moore of Kansas, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and Stephanie Tubbs-Jones of Ohio.

Rep. Frank Mascara of Pennsylvania and Rep.-elect Jay Inslee of Washington, who returns to Congress after losing a reelection run four years ago, were also named to the committee.

Rep.-elect Anthony D. Weiner of New York was expected to join House Banking but instead will serve on the Judiciary Committee.

Speaking of Henry Gonzalez, the veteran Democrat returned to Capitol Hill to vote against impeaching President Clinton after spending most of the year in Texas. He announced his retirement in September 1997 because of health problems but never officially abdicated his seat. He attended important votes in late 1998 but missed the roll calls for financial reform and credit union bills in the spring.

Under the public microscope as an undecided moderate Republican, House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach voted to impeach President Clinton.

The deliberate Iowa Republican issued a four-page explanation of the logic he used to overcome his initial belief that President Clinton's actions were not serious enough to warrant removal.

At first, he sympathized with the argument that sexual matters were private and harassment not a constitutional matter. He criticized the independent counsel's investigation as excessive and use of secret tape recordings as dubious. And, he said, other presidents had lied and had extramarital affairs.

But these other lies had not been made under oath, he concluded. He decided that he had no other choice but to back two of the four articles of impeachment because the president had committed perjury to protect himself and deny a citizen her right to due process under the law.

"The fundamental issue is that no individual is above the law and that democratic governance depends on trust, which in turn depends on truth- saying," Rep. Leach said. "It makes it impossible to justify a vote against impeachment."

Despite his views and 20 pages of supporting commentary from his constituents, Rep. Leach added that censure should be permitted as a punishment option.

Richard C. Aspinwall, a 29-year veteran of Chase Manhattan Bank, will retire Thursday. Scorning the typical retirement agenda of golf and fishing, the 66-year-old senior vice president and director of public policy research said he plans to remain on the Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee and the board of the Santa Fe Opera Foundation. He also was recently named to the New York City metropolitan area's Regional Plan Association. "I'm very interested in urban policy," he said. "I hope to expand that kind of activity."

Melanie L. Fein is leaving the Arnold & Porter law firm Thursday to teach banking, securities, and insurance law at Yale Law School and to write about the industry. She also will maintain a small banking law practice. A partner for nine years at the Washington-based firm, Ms. Fein said she grew tired of the "hectic" pace of life at the 400-lawyer firm. "I've just decided that there is more to life than working at a big firm," she said.

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