It's not every day that a group of small-town bankers get to chat with the President after dinner.

But thanks to their plucky host, lobbyist Alex Maroulis-Cronmiller, four community bankers stole a short visit with President Clinton last week when he dined at Sam and Harry's, a favorite haunt of Washington politicos.

Ms. Maroulis-Cronmiller circumvented White House aides and walked directly to President Clinton's table. In tow were Jack Dickey, CEO of First National Bank in Thomas, Okla., and Jim Goetz, CEO of State Bank of Oliver County in Center, N.D.

Ms. Maroulis-Cronmiller, who runs the Independent Bankers Association of America's political action committee, introduced the pair, emphasizing their small-town ties.

After the bankers returned to their private dining room, the President asked to join them. He was greeted by a couple more eager IBAA members - Bob Fricke, CEO of Farmers and Merchants National Bank in Ashland, Neb., and Chip Morrow, CEO of Pacific Coast Bankers Bank in Torrance, Calif.

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The Western League of Savings Institutions has drawn up its legislative priorities for 1996. Guess what? It looks a lot like the 1995 agenda.

Still topping the league's priorities is rebuilding the Savings Association Insurance Fund and a merger of the bank and thrift charters. - "That is not done and remains at the head of the list," said Western League president Louis H. Nevins.

The group is also pushing for a resurrection of the Federal Home Loan Bank System, which died last year.

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Ohio bankers know how to treat their friends. Just ask Republican Reps. Frank Cremeans, Robert Ney, and Deborah Pryce.

Thanks to the largess of their home-state bakers, the Ohio lawmakers led the House in political contributions from commercial banks during the first half of 1995, according to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The trio vaulted over such congressional heavyweights as Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., because of a lucrative fund-raiser held at the home of John B. McCoy, chairman of Columbus-based Banc One last April. The $1,500-a- person reception raised $90,000 for the three lawmakers.

The big draw for the event was chance a for bank executives to hobnob with House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, R-Iowa, who was the guest of honor.

Getting in the trio's good graces has already paid off. Last month Rep. Cremeans landed Mr. McCoy and some other big-name bankers an audience with House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

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