The Financial Accounting Standards Board has an official lobbyist. The board's parent, the Financial Accounting Foundation, registered as a lobbyist on Jan. 21 and has designated Jeffrey P. Mahoney, a FASB project manager here, as its representative.

"We decided that it would be appropriate to register so we could have the flexibility to respond to legislation that impacts us," said Mr. Mahoney, who noted that FASB is opposing bills that would restrict its rulemaking ability and overturn a proposal for companies to record the value of derivatives on quarterly income statements.

The decision drew fire from Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., who said it is ironic that FASB would register as a lobbyist at the same time it is accusing him of politicizing accounting rules.

The Bankers Roundtable recently hired prominent banking lawyer Michael S. Helfer to aid its fight for financial reform legislation-and may be looking to bolster its team further.

Mr. Helfer, a partner at the Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering firm here who argued the banking industry's case against credit unions before the Supreme Court last year, will primarily work on insurance law issues, said Richard M. Whiting, the group's general counsel.

Meanwhile, the Bankers Roundtable is mulling whether to hire a high- profile lobbyist akin to American Council of Life Insurance president Carroll Campbell. Some members reportedly are balking because they might have to cough up a special assessment to fund that post.

Michael J. McGarry, deputy staff director at the House Banking Committee, has jumped ship to become Visa U.S.A.'s director of corporate relations in Washington. He said his job will include speaking for the credit card company on bankruptcy issues and overseeing consumer education efforts on money management, but not lobbying.

Bank of America chairman David A. Coulter was not trying to make a political statement by leaving his name off a recent industry letter urging House Speaker Newt Gingrich to pass comprehensive financial reform.

Mr. Coulter was the only banker who attended a meeting of financial services executives with key Republican lawmakers last month who did not sign their subsequent Jan. 23 letter to Rep. Gingrich. "He was traveling," a spokesman explained. "He got around to it when he got back."

Although her term expired Jan. 30, Federal Reserve Board Governor Susan M. Phillips has decided to remain in office until her successor is nominated and confirmed.

An administration official said a nomination is likely within the next few months.

The House last week approved the addition of two Democrats to the Banking Committee, Max Sandlin of Texas and Gregory W. Meeks of New York. Rep. Meeks, a state Assemblyman, a few days earlier won the special election for the seat vacated by former Banking Committee member Floyd H. Flake. Rep. Sandlin, an attorney, is a freshman who serves on the Transportation Committee.

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