A frequent global traveler, House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach chose to spend his August recess stateside. The Iowa Republican campaigned in his home state with Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, and held town hall meetings in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.
In between TV news interviews on the Russian money laundering scandal involving Bank of New York, Rep. Leach has been busy moving from his home near Dupont Circle in the District of Columbia to the Maryland suburbs.
After a swing through Texas to meet with constituents, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm traveled to Hawaii with his wife, Wendy Gramm, former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to visit his mother-in-law. He stopped in Washington briefly last week before heading back to Texas to meet with agricultural producers about emergency spending and other farm issues.
Financial services industry lobbyists went to Sweden with about 20 members of Congress and others on a trip sponsored by the Ripon Educational Fund, a bipartisan think tank that arranges an annual trans-Atlantic conference of U.S. and European business and political leaders. Robert A. Rusbuldt, executive vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents of America, said the group met with Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf, Speaker of Parliament Birgitta Dahl, business leaders, and others. Also on the trip were Rep. Michael G. Oxley, chairman of the House Commerce subcommittee on finance, Chase Manhattan Corp. lobbyist L. Thomas Block, the Bond Market Association's Micah Green and Betsy Barclay, and Prudential lobbyist Peter P. Begans.
Former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato is trying to foist his crusade against automated teller machine fees on his successor.
In his "Ask Alfonse" advice column in the August issue of George magazine, the ex-senator was asked by a reader from Boston whether it is "time to dump some ATM receipts into Boston Harbor, or is this battle already lost?"
His response is enough to make the switchboard operator at Sen. Gramm's office cringe: "I lost my battle on this issue in the Senate, but we haven't lost the war. If you want to do something about it, call the thoughtful senator from Texas, Phil Gramm, at 202-224-2934. Tell the powerful chairman of the Senate Banking Committee to stand up for hardworking, middle-class Americans."
But press aides for Sen. Gramm said that his offices have not been bombarded with calls.
When it comes to books, employees of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. are all business.
Amazon.com, the Internet bookseller, recently started posting "bestseller" lists for a variety of corporations, geographic areas, and government agencies. To compile a bestseller list for the FDIC, Amazon.com isolated all the on-line book orders made by purchasers whose Internet address contained the domain name fdic.gov.
The results were telling. Six of the eight most-purchased books deal with diversity in the workplace, a top priority of FDIC Chairman Donna A. Tanoue. The seventh and eighth most popular titles concern the relationship between personality type and career success.
FDIC employees are a little less buttoned-down when it comes to buying compact discs. Among the top-selling CDs: Zoot Suit Riot: The Swingin' Hits of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies; Brian Setzer's The Dirty Boogie; plus titles by Shania Twain, the Goo Goo Dolls, and others.
But not all music lovers at the FDIC are such philistines. The agency's No. 1 and No. 6 best-selling CDs are by the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.