Washington lobbyists Joseph A. Muldoon and Thomas H. Quinn bested a host of rivals who were pushing to cut their clients' tab for capitalizing the thrift deposit insurance fund.

Representing New York City's GreenPoint Financial Corp., the two pressed lawmakers to ignore other lobbyists and continue to base a special assessment on deposits held at March 31, 1995. Mr. Muldoon is a partner in the Muldoon, Murphy & Faucette law firm; Mr. Quinn is with O'Connor & Hannan.

When Congress approved the fund rescue package Sept. 30, it left the date alone and saved GreenPoint a $54 million assessment on $8.3 billion of deposits it had bought from Home Savings of America in May 1995.

Congress first approved the March 1995 date last year when the thrift fund rescue was passed as part of a balanced budget bill, which President Clinton vetoed.

Mr. Quinn conceded that his task had been simpler than those of his rivals. While other lobbyists pushed for a date change or special deals, he and Mr. Muldoon just asked that lawmakers stick with the version they had already passed. "It was too complicated to change," Mr. Quinn said.

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Consumer and industry groups joined forces to kill a provision in the thrift fund bailout that would have let affinity groups earn fees for loan referrals.

The fee provision, initially nestled in a slate of proposed changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, would have let groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons or the National Wildlife Federation collect fees for directing borrowers to certain lenders.

MBNA Corp. and Household Finance Corp. backed the referral fees, according to congressional sources.

But Margot Saunders, managing attorney for the National Consumer Law Center, scorched the proposal in a Sept. 22 letter to Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., as a "subterfuge for gutting" laws against kickbacks.

The Consumer Mortgage Coalition, an industry group, warned that the fees would lead to higher lending costs. "The industry will be forced to artificially restructure its entire marketing operations," coalition executive vice president Anne Canfield wrote in a Sept. 25 letter to Sen. Sarbanes, ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee.

After the two groups protested, the White House pressured Republican leaders to drop the provision.

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The Comptroller of the Currency's new guidelines for bank insurance sales are a "good news-bad news situation," according to the Independent Insurance Agents of America.

Well, mostly bad, the group seemed to say in renewing its call for new restrictions on bank insurance sales.

In a prepared statement Oct. 9, the agents group lauded the "small steps" the Comptroller's Office had taken to preserve state insurance regulators' supervision of bank insurance sales. These measures included prohibiting the tying of credit with insurance sales and recommending that bank insurance sales people earn state licenses.

But ultimately, said Paul Equale, vice president of government affairs for the agents group, the Comptroller continued its "embellishment" of a Supreme Court ruling preventing states from significantly interfering with bank insurance sales.

"An unelected federal regulator - the Comptroller - continues to claim complete control over state insurance regulation and the application of these laws to national banks," he said.

The Comptroller's guidelines said that a state insurance regulator would violate the court's standard if it had even "a relatively small level of impact" on bank insurance sales.

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