Banc One lobbyist Annie Hall scored big-time last week when she got her boss in to see House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The get-together was arranged when Ms. Hall complained to Rep. Frank Cremeans, R-Ohio, that banks have been burned by lack of access to the speaker. Rep. Cremeans, only too willing to help out a big constituent like Columbus-based Banc One, needed less than a day to set up the meeting.

For the Dec. 7 pow-wow, Ms. Hall arranged for her boss, Banc One Corp. Chairman John B. McCoy, to be joined by four other big-bank chiefs: Edward L. Crutchfield of First Union Corp., Douglas Warner of Morgan Guaranty, Thomas G. Labrecque of Chase Manhattan Corp., and David A. Coulter of BankAmerica Corp.

The meeting surprised other bank lobbyists who viewed Rep. Cremeans as a neophyte on banking issues.

But lobbyists grudgingly praised Ms. Hall for seeking help from one of Speaker Gingrich's loyal freshman Republicans. It's a tactic they overlooked.

The five bankers used the meeting as a chance to beg for financial modernization, particularly new securities powers.

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J. Denis O'Toole, Washington lobbyist for Household International, is a '90s kind of guy. In other words, his company's shrinking and he's doing more work.

On Jan. 1, Mr. O'Toole will take over all of Household's lobbying efforts when his boss, Kirk Henry, retires.

Mr. O'Toole will take the title of vice president of state and federal government relations and will manage a nationwide staff of 34.

Mr. O'Toole said he's "delighted to have the new responsibilities," but notes that his promotion gives Household a chance to reduce its lobbying team.

In addition to Mr. Henry, a 30-year veteran of Household, Paul Boso, vice president of state relations, will retire on Jan. 1. Mr. Boso's duties, heading up state lobbying in the eastern half of the country, will be consolidated under Larry Heckner, who currently oversees state government relations in the West.

Mr. O'Toole will continue to head the firm's lobbying efforts in Washington.

"This reflects the downsizing at Household as a whole," he said. "We've had a 20% reduction in employees, and government relations is not immune."

In the past year, Household has sold its insurance operations and banking operations outside the Midwest, and shut down its mortgage origination business.

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Pushing his luck?

Richard L. Mount, president of the Independent Bankers Association of America, is mad that all banks must pay a $2,000 fee for deposit insurance.

Come Jan. 1 most banks will only pay the fee, because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. dropped its premiums for 92% of the industry.

Writing to FDIC Chairman Ricki Helfer, Mr. Mount argued that more than 1,200 banks with less than $15 million in deposits "will be paying the same as some of the huge financial conglomerates like Bank of America or NationsBank."

Kenneth Guenther, the IBAA's executive vice president, has vowed to fight the fees if he gets a chance, but concedes "it's a long shot."

His best chance is an amendment to the balanced budget bill now being debated by Congress and the Clinton administration. But the bill's banking provisions are unlikely to be revisited.

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