With Election Day still seven months away, New Jersey bankers are already lobbying House GOP leaders to put Rep. Marge Roukema at the Banking Committee's helm next year.

The current chief, Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, will abide by his party's six-year term limit on chairmanships and step aside in 2001. Rep. Roukema, of New Jersey, and Rep. Richard H. Baker of Louisiana are rivals to succeed him if Republicans keep control of the House.

About 40 members of the New Jersey League of Community and Savings Bankers visited Capitol Hill recently to make their case for Rep. Roukema, president Samuel J. Damiano said. "She'd be not only good for New Jersey but for banking overall."

"We've got our fingers crossed," added New Jersey Bankers Association president Al Griffith, noting that his group urged Speaker J. Dennis Hastert in a letter to anoint Rep. Roukema. "Her experience on the committee and her seniority hopefully will make it possible."

Rep. Roukema has represented the Garden State's fifth district for 20 years and currently chairs House Banking's financial institutions subcommittee. Rep. Baker is in his sixth term and is chairman of the capital markets subcommittee.

Members of the Community Bankers Association of Illinois also have told Rep. Hastert's staff that they back Rep. Roukema, said governmental relations director David Manning.

But Rusty Cloutier, state director for the Independent Community Bankers of America in Louisiana, said Bayou State bankers are holding back until the dust clears in November. And New York bankers note that if the Democrats win a majority of House seats, their man from Buffalo, Rep. John J. LaFalce, would likely take over House Banking. "Bankers from both sides [of the political spectrum] respect him," said Mariel Donath, president of the Community Bankers Association of New York State.

After 17 years, Annie Hall will no longer be needling lawmakers on Bank One's behalf. The independent, outspoken lobbyist leaves the Chicago-based banking company on May 10 with plans to set up her own shop, Hard Money and Associates."Bank One decided that they wanted a much lower profile and that they would have the American Bankers Association represent them in Washington," Ms. Hall said in an interview. Her exit has been expected since December when her mentor, the troubled bank's CEO, John B. McCoy, stepped down.

Hard Money and Associates will help banks, securities firms, and insurance companies build their political action committees.

The American Bankers Association today wraps up its Spring Summit, a two-day gathering of the group's government relations council, state association presidents, and others to plot lobbying priorities. As the war over privacy rages in the states, the meeting focused on grassroots lobbying efforts … Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, was named this week to head the Senate's new Critical Infrastructure Protection Working Group. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm and two other Banking members will serve, too.

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