Ron Ence has spent most of his career worrying about the price of corn, rather than the cost of deposit insurance. In May, however, he gave up his farmer's hat and took on a new mission, defending the nation's independent banks from those who would trim back or otherwise abuse the Bank Insurance Fund.
"Our No. 1 issue is protection of deposit insurance," he said. "That's my mandate."
For the last four and a half years, Mr. Ence has been the Independent Bankers Association of America's agricultural lobbyist, a job that matched his background perfectly.
Before joining the IBAA, he was director of legislative and public affairs for the Farmers Home Administration, an agency of the Department of Agriculture. Before that, he worked on agricultural issues for Sen. Bob Dole, the Republican leader.
Mr. Ence cheerfully admits that his new job has taken him into uncharted waters -- and at the worst time possible.
He took over the IBAA's lobbying operation as that session of Congress was entering the home stretch. A number of bills, from interstate branching to fair credit reporting to community development lending, were nearing enactment.
"I don't have the personal contacts on the banking committees, and I don't have time to make them now," he admitted. "I have to manage our legislative effort."
Still, while Mr. Ence had previously focused on agricultural issues, he noted that he did occasionally work on mainstream banking issues for the IBAA.
"I had a lot of exposure to banking issues," he said. "I lobbied the issues, made phone calls when I was needed. But when you do that, you don't have time to develop the personal contacts."
Association of America
One Thomas Circle
Washington, D.C. 20005