Pork, Anyone?

We're not sure if this counts as feeding the hungry, but a handful of bank executives ponied up thousands of dollars for Republicans at the Presidential Gala dinner.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman-in-waiting Don Powell and his wife, Twanna Powell, donated $9,500, according to the campaign-finance watchdog Center for Responsive Politics.

President Bush nominated Mr. Powell, the president and principal owner of First National Bank of Amarillo, Tex., to the post in April. The Senate Banking Committee has not officially scheduled his confirmation hearing, but sources say it could be this month.

Other contributors to the lavish May 22 event, hosted by the Republican National Committee at the D.C. Armory, included John Chalsty, former chairman and now a senior adviser at Credit Suisse First Boston, who personally gave $9,500. Citigroup lobbyist Roger N. Levy donated $2,500. Capital One Financial pitched in $200,545.

AFLAC was more generous, donating a whopping $1,981,160. No wonder they didn't serve duck.

AFSA Picks Lobbyist

Countrywide Home Loans Inc. vice president Monique S. Gaw has left the mortgage giant to become the top lobbyist for the American Financial Services Association. Ms. Gaw, who was in charge of government affairs at Countrywide's Washington office, will oversee federal relations for AFSA, which represents diversified financial services companies. She succeeds Jeffrey A. Tassey, who left the group to become a partner at Williams & Jensen law firm. Before joining Countrywide, Ms. Gaw lobbied for several financial services firms and trade groups, including the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, Charles Schwab & Co., and PaineWebber Inc.

State Heads Named

Fred R. Lawson became commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions on May 1. He succeeded Bill Houston, who retired after holding the post since April 1996. Mr. Lawson, a banker since 1958, had been the president and chief executive officer of BankFirst Corp., a Knoxville bank holding company, since 1993.

Montana has named Annie M. Bartos its commissioner of banking and financial institutions. She began May 21, replacing Donald Hutchison, who retired. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Bartos was chief legal counsel at the state's commerce department. Ms. Bartos spent more than 10 years as legal counsel to the agency's banking and financial institutions division.

Equal Photo Ops

The invitation list to President Bush's tax bill signing ceremony last week said a lot.

Among the half-dozen Democratic lawmakers invited to the White House event were conservative Senate Democrats Zell Miller of Georgia and John Breaux of Louisiana, both of whom have fended off party-switching rumors this year. Also invited was moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who reportedly had warned the administration that Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont could defect from the GOP. She was right.

Noticeably absent from the list was Rep. Benjamin Cardin, the Maryland Democrat who voted against the final bill but was lauded anyway by industry groups for co-authoring the retirement savings provisions in the House with Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who was invited.

"Special appreciation must go to the sponsors of the legislation, Congressmen Rob Portman of Ohio and Ben Cardin of Maryland, and senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Max Baucus of Montana," said American Council of Life Insurers president and chief executive officer Carroll A. Campbell Jr. in a prepared statement.

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