The Bankers Roundtable is eyeing several congressional veterans, including Rep. Bill Paxon, as its next executive director.

The five-term New York Republican, who decided to leave Congress this summer after being implicated in an effort to oust House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has been interviewed by the trade group's executive search firm.

The Roundtable, whose members come from the country's 125 largest commercial banking organizations, is looking for a high-profile politician who can build the group's lobbying might.

At least a half dozen candidates are under consideration, including former Reps. Steve Bartlett and Vin Weber. Mr. Bartlett, who served on the Banking Committee, was more recently the mayor of Dallas. Mr. Weber, a Minnesota Republican, served in the House from 1981 to 1992. The Roundtable's top staff member, Tony Cluff, announced his retirement in March.

A spokesman for Mr. Paxon would not confirm whether his boss wanted the Roundtable job. Mr. Bartlett declined to comment. He recently sold his interest in Dallas-based Meridian Products Corp., a plastic injection- molding company that he founded in 1976, and is currently chairman of a similar firm called Saranda Corp. He also serves on the board of Kaufman & Broad Home Corp., a publicly traded home builder with a mortgage subsidiary.

Mr. Weber, a partner in the Washington office of the Clark & Weinstock lobbying firm, was out of the office Friday and could not be reached for comment.

Former FDIC Director Joseph H. Neely is opening a bank consulting business called First Strategies Group that will offer a variety of services to Mississippi and Louisiana banks, including profitability analysis and strategic planning.

The firm will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Louisiana Independent Bankshares, the parent of $129 million-asset First National Banker's Bank in Baton Rouge.

"This is a natural for Joe," said Joseph F. Quinlan, Louisiana Bankshares' president and chief executive officer. Mr. Neely is a native Mississippian and the state's former bank commissioner.

So far the new firm consists of Mr. Neely and a secretary, but the FDIC veteran is recruiting more staff.

Ricki Helfer says personal experience shows that "bankers aren't that far into the information technology revolution."

In a speech last week, the former FDIC chairman said she was aghast when her 18-month-old son recently received two credit card solicitations.

"While I believe he will be a good credit risk some day, they don't know that," she quipped.

Two signatures were conspicuosly missing from the industry letter sent to Capitol Hill last week pledging to support financial reform next year.

Paul Schosberg, president of America's Community Bankers, and Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America, were not asked to sign the one-page letter endorsed by eight banking, insurance, and securities groups.

"Not only were we not asked, but we didn't know about the letter until it was out," Mr. Schosberg said. It's unclear whether ACB would have signed had it been invited.

Edward L. Yingling, the chief lobbyist of the American Bankers Association, said no slight was intended. "There was no particular reason other than we were in a hurry," he said.

The eight groups signing the letter pledged to "work together the rest of this year and next year with leaders of Congress to achieve enactment of financial modernization legislation."

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