The Independent Bankers Association of America has long been able to count Jim Leach among its friends in high places.

But the trade group's opposition to his financial reform bill has angered the House Banking Committee chairman.

In a recent letter, Rep. Leach criticized IBAA chief Kenneth A. Guenther's leadership. "If I'm right, your ill-timed opposition to financial modernization jeopardizes the vested interest of the IBAA membership going into the 21st century," Rep. Leach wrote.

The Iowa Republican defended his legislation as pro-community bank, noting that it would grant small banks broader insurance powers and better access to Federal Home Loan bank advances, and would bar a mixture of banking and commerce.

"I have attempted at every turn in the road to address the issues of concern to the leadership of community banks," Rep. Leach wrote.

He also questioned Mr. Guenther's assertion that former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker also opposes the bill. Noting that he talks to Mr. Volcker often, Rep. Leach told Mr. Guenther, "Perhaps you know better-I doubt it."

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