The nine-member Council of Federal Home Loan banks is searching for an executive director to represent the group in Washington.

Officials at the member banks would not disclose names of candidates, but sources said four contenders have been interviewed during the last week. They are: Doyle Bartlett, chief of staff for Rep. Bill McCollum, R- Fla.; Richard L. Maurano, deputy staff director for House Banking Committee Democrats; Frank MaGuire, former senior adviser to the Comptroller of the Currency; and John L. von Seggern, director of congressional affairs for the Office of Thrift Supervision.

The council's members are the Federal Home Loan banks based in Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Topeka, and Seattle.

The council was formed in January to give the banks a "concerted voice" in Washington, said James Wallace, a spokesman for the Atlanta bank. Next year will be critical for the Home Loan banks, he said, because lawmakers are expected to tackle legislation that would shore up the system's finances and let the banks make advances for small-business, community development, and agricultural loans. Congress is also expected to continue scrutiny of controversial lending programs launched by several banks.

The banks are budgeting $300,000 for the lobbying effort, and the search for an executive director is being headed by Boston Home Loan Bank President Michael A. Jesse.

The council won't speak for all the Home Loan banks, though. The banks based in Chicago, Dallas, and New York declined to join on the grounds that each bank employs outside lobbyists and there's little to gain by hiring more.

The Independent Bankers Association of America is carrying its fight against financial reform onto the local television news.

The trade group for small banks recently mailed 220 taped comments by IBAA chairman Leland M. Stenehjem Jr. and other critics to stations in key congressional districts, in hopes that clips will be used as sound bites in news broadcasts.

Letting banks merge with commercial giants "could lead to a replay of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s," Allen Fishbein, general counsel for the Center for Community Change, warns in one segment.

As a result of the tape, outlets in Augusta, Ga., Utica, N.Y., and West Palm Beach, Fla., have stories on financial reform in the works, said Monique E. Hanis, the IBAA's director of marketing. Another 30 stations have contacted the IBAA to get more information about the legislation, she said.

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