They're at It Again

Credit union and bank trade groups have resumed their public squabbling.The American Bankers Association started the latest fracas with an ad last week in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call that said credit unions were straying from their intended mission.

That drew an angry response from the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, which wrote a letter to all 535 members of Congress grousing about the ABA's "usual hypocrisy, running ads that distort the true facts about credit unions."

The group took issue with claims that credit unions were created solely to serve those of small means. "The ABA's recent ad distorts the 1934 Federal Credit Union Act," wrote Fred R. Becker Jr., its president and chief executive.

The ABA, needless to say, is not backing down.

"The Federal Credit Union Act says credit unions were created to provide credit to people of small means," Keith Leggett, a senior economist for the banker group, said Friday.

"It was clearly recognized by Congress … when you look at the rationalization for the continuation for the tax exemption."

 

Bush Deputy Leaving

Brian Conklin, President Bush's deputy assistant for legislative affairs, is leaving the White House to return to the financial services sector.Mr. Conklin will join USAA (formerly the United Services Automobile Association) on March 12 as its vice president for federal affairs, heading its Washington office.

Mr. Conklin is a longtime financial services lobbyist and a former partner at Washington Council Ernst & Young. He is in his second stint at the White House; in 2001 and 2002 he was one of the administration's House lobbyists. After returning to Washington Council, he rejoined the White House in January 2005 as head of a five-member team to push President Bush's priorities in the House.

Mr. Conklin's last day at the White House is March 9.

 

Differing on GSEs

Federal Housing Finance Board Chairman Ronald Rosenfeld may support legislation reforming the regulation of the government-sponsored enterprises, but that doesn't mean his colleagues agree.In a speech this month, Geoff Bacino, a director at the Finance Board, offered a stinging rebuttal to supporters of GSE reform, particularly Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight Director James Lockhart.

"The rationale for the current legislative proposal to merge the FHFB and OFHEO into a single superagency for GSE regulation reminds me of the arguments that were made for creating the Department of Homeland Security, an organization that has turned out to be inefficient, ineffective, an administrative nightmare and, certainly, based on its record, a misnamed agency," he told the Federal Bar Association.

Mr. Bacino proceeded to dissect each of Mr. Lockhart's standard arguments for GSE reform but said, "It is not my intention to personalize my disagreements."

 

'All the Skill Sets'

Industry representatives were pleased last week by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's pick of Richard Neiman to be the state's banking superintendent.Mr. Neiman is the chairman, president, and CEO of Toronto-Dominion Bank's TD Bank USA. Previously he was director of regulatory advisory services at Price Waterhouse LLP, which later merged with TD Bank; after the merger Mr. Neiman was executive vice president and general counsel.

From 1979 to 1989, Mr. Neiman was vice president and counsel at Citicorp.

"He has all the skill sets probably perfect for this position," said Larry Waterhouse, who founded Waterhouse Investor Services in 1979. "His background is perfect for holding him in step for his new title."

Michael Smith, the president of the New York Bankers Association, said Mr. Neiman's legal, regulatory, and banking experience make him a perfect fit for the position.

He also brings a unique background to the position amid a Supreme Court battle over the Office of Comptroller of the Currency's preemption powers. He started his legal career at the OCC as special assistant to the chief counsel.

"His experience with the OCC and now going into the state system will give him an excellent advantage point necessary to preserve the dual banking system," Mr. Smith said.

If confirmed by the state legislature, Mr. Neiman would succeed Diana Taylor, who is stepping down next month to join the New York investment bank Wolfensohn & Co. LLC as a managing director.

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