A political cloud hanging over the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for nearly a year was lifted Thursday when Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm ended his investigation of political activities by national bank examiners.

The Texas Republican issued a report saying the agency "aggressively" used 36 examiners to help the Clinton Administration collect the names of 18 bankers from 11 financial institutions who would defend the Community Reinvestment Act -- which is under attack by Sen. Gramm. In particular, the report knocks the agency for having eight examiners contact banks directly -- including three that were being examined at the same time.

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