Banking on the GOP

Like all good nominees, former California banking superintendent James E. Gilleran, President Bush's pick to succeed Ellen Seidman as director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, has done his part to keep his party in the green.

In addition to giving $1,000 to the Bush campaign in the last election cycle, Mr. Gilleran donated to the losing Senate bids of then-House Banking Committee members Rep. Rick A. Lazio, R-N.Y. ($1,000); Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla. ($2,000); and Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Calif. ($1,000), according to federal campaign finance records published by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Mr. Gilleran also has been involved in the California Bankers Association's political action committee.

"He's always been active politically in the sense he's always understood the industry has to function in an environment in which the legislative risk has to be managed," said Gregory Wilhelm, director of government relations at the association. "You have to be actively involved in trying to shape it. He understood that as both a regulator and a banker."

Mr. Gilleran has long been helpful with GOP fund-raising. When the first President Bush nominated him in 1992 to be comptroller of the currency, The New York Times reported that Senate Banking Committee Democrats "have begun looking into complaints that Mr. Gilleran, who had been a Republican fund-raiser, continued to raise money for the party after he became a senior regulator and solicited contributions from the same bankers that he regulates."

The Senate adjourned that year before confirming Mr. Gilleran, who was passed over for comptroller when President Clinton took office and eventually nominated Eugene A. Ludwig for the post.

Mr. Gilleran has been freer to promote his political beliefs since returning to the private sector in 1994 as chief executive officer of the Bank of San Francisco, where he remained until First Banks America Inc. bought it in December.

Uniformity at FDIC

Diversity - or the lack of it - on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board could be an issue in the Senate's consideration of Mr. Gilleran.

The current board has two men and two women, one of whom, Chairman Donna Tanoue, is a minority-group member, but Ms. Tanoue is scheduled to depart Wednesday. If FDIC Chairman-designate Donald E. Powell is confirmed and Mr. Gilleran takes Ms. Seidman's place on the FDIC board, they would join Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke Jr. and board member John Reich - all white men.

At least a few consumer advocates are already grumbling.

"We are going to have an old-boy white man's club," said Robert Gnaizda, policy director and general counsel of the Greenlining Institute. "You have no minorities and no women, and at the same time there was a recent report that there are 10 million people who are unbanked, the vast majority of whom are minorities. There is nobody in power who has any understanding of the problem."

Bay State Scrum

On the other side of the aisle - or at least hoping to get there - is housing activist John Taylor, president and chief executive officer of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

Mr. Taylor, a 51-year-old lawyer who hails from the Boston suburb of West Roxbury, has thrown his hat into the crowded ring of Democrats vying to succeed Rep. J. Joseph Moakley, D-Mass., who died in May. Mr. Taylor is up against a number of state senators, with Stephen F. Lynch considered the front-runner.

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