Joseph H. Neely is scheduled to be sworn in today as a director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., bringing the five-member board to full strength for the first time since August 1992.

It's been a long road for the Mississippi banking commissioner. Rumblings of his appointment first surfaced in December 1994 and his nomination finally came through last July. The Senate confirmed him Dec. 22.

Mr. Neely, 44, has spent the past month preparing to move from Vicksburg to the Washington area. With Mr. Neely in place, the FDIC is planning its first public board meeting since mid-December for Feb. 6.

***

It never hurts to have friends in high places, and for Washington lobbyists it doesn't get much higher than director of legislative affairs at the White House.

So the American Bankers Association has to be pretty happy that John Hilley will be President Clinton's new top lobbyist come Feb. 1.

Mr. Hilley, a top aide to Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle, went to Princeton with Edward L. Yingling, the ABA's top lobbyist. "He was one of my closest friends," Mr. Yingling recalled.

Mr. Yingling said the choice of Mr. Hilley, a PhD economist, bodes well for the banking industry and financial services in general. "He's knowledgeable about financial issues - that's what he studied - and he knows banking."

***

Newly elected Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has secured a spot on the House Banking Committee.

Winner of a special election to replace Mel Reynolds, Rep. Jackson, D-Ill., said one of his initial concerns will be to fight redlining of impoverished areas such as Chicago's South Side.

"This appointment will give me the opportunity to protect the interest of the economically disenfranchised families residing in my district," he said. "I am committed to reversing the drastic effects of discriminatory redlining perpetuated by banks on those considered credit-unworthy."

Before running for the seat vacated by Mr. Reynolds, Rep. Jackson was national field director for the Rainbow Coalition.

Rep. Jackson fills the second spot created when House Banking increased its membership to 52. The first was filled by California Republican Tom Campbell.

Another Democratic opening on the committee will be created next month when five-termer Kweisi Mfume of Maryland steps down to become chief executive of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

***

The House Banking Committee shuffled some staff duties following the departure of counsel Margo Tank, who last week joined the Washington office of Goodwin, Proctor, and Hoar, a Boston law firm. Natalie Nguyen, counsel to the financial institutions and consumer credit subcommittee, has assumed many of Ms. Tank's duties. Joining the staff will be counsel Ellen Kuo. Previously, Ms. Kuo was with a Roanoke, Va., law firm.

Joe Pinder, House Banking's deputy communications director, will switch to the investigation staff of the panel's general oversight subcommittee.

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