Fond Farewell

It was a bit of a lovefest all around last week when Sen. Chris Dodd convened his last Senate Banking Committee hearing as chairman, with panel members on both sides of the aisle commending the Connecticut Democrat's 36 years of congressional service and their time serving with him.

The goodbye began Monday when Dodd delivered a speech on the Senate floor where he lamented the growing partisanship in the Senate and the media's focus on conflict over consensus.

"Intense partisan polarization has raised the stakes in every debate and on every vote, making it difficult to lose with grace, and nearly impossible to compromise without cost," Dodd said.

"It has become commonplace to hear candidates for the Senate campaign on how they are going to Washington to shake things up — all by themselves. May I politely suggest that you are seeking election to the wrong office. The United States Senate does not work that way, nor can it, or should it."

At his final Banking Committee hearing a day later, Dodd said that he recalled a time in spring 2006 when the committee had erupted in "chaos" with people "screaming and yelling," and Sen. Paul Sarbanes, the panel's then No. 1 Democrat, who was preparing to retire, put his arm around Dodd and said, "'Just think. In six months, all of this is yours.'"

"And I had no idea what he was predicting for me over the next four years on the subject matter," Dodd said, laughing.

Dodd thanked his colleagues and they in turn took turns commending him, including Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the panel.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was also a fan, thanking Dodd for the way he ran the committee. He first joked that when he was considering which panels to join, nine out of 10 members told him to avoid the Banking Committee because it was the most boring.

"It's been anything but that," Corker said, chuckling. "The way committee members have interacted with each other has been a reflection of your outstanding leadership and I thank you for that."

Dodd in turn thanked Corker for his contribution to the regulatory reform effort. "Working with so many people on this side over here made a major, major contribution to the effort," Dodd said. "And while we all didn't come to an agreement on it, the effort, I think, made a far better product than would otherwise have been the case. And so I will be eternally grateful to a guy from Tennessee named Bob Corker for your efforts. I'm grateful to you."

After some more laudatory comments, Corker cut himself off, saying he was concerned they were making Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., sick.

"I know Bunning is about to get nauseous over here with all of these comments," he said.

New Lobbying Firm

Roy DeLoach and Mike Chapman have teamed up to form a new financial services lobbying and communications shop called DC Strategies Group with an expertise in real estate, mortgage and business finance, among other issue areas.

DeLoach is a former chief executive and lobbyist for the National Association of Mortgage Brokers. Chapman is a former legislative director for Sen. Tim Johnson, when he served in the House. The South Dakota Democrat is expected to become chairman of the Senate Banking Committee next year.

"Now that the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is law, it will be important that implementation occur in a way that doesn't unnecessarily harm the economy," DeLoach said in a press release last week. "Our experience in the legislative and regulatory arenas gives our clients high-level expertise in navigating the relationships between Congress and the administration on their specific interests."

Tempting the Fates?

File this one in the "whistling past the graveyard" category: The American Bankers Association announced Wednesday that it will be distributing $4 million of profits to the customers of American Bankers Mutual Insurance Ltd., the company through which the ABA runs its liability protection program for bank directors and officers.

At a time when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has said it is investigating about 50 banks' executives' conduct, perhaps the distribution ought to be viewed as a statement of confidence.

"This marks the 21st consecutive year that the reinsurance company has distributed profits directly back to our member banks," said John Manor, the chairman of American Bankers Mutual.

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