The pile of letters, postcards, and e-mails commenting on the proposed know-your-customer rule just keeps growing.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Donna A. Tanoue said the agency has received 45,640 comments. Roughly 8,000 came in on Thursday alone.

More and more of them, however, are form letters rather than individually written comments. Wednesday, for example, 2,000 preprinted postcards, nearly all from Missouri, arrived in the mail.

Though the slew of comments has overwhelmed the FDIC's staff, Ms. Tanoue is sold on the importance of allowing comments via e-mail. "I think it's the only way to go for the future," she said in an interview. "The FDIC would encourage it."

The deadline for comments is March 8-four days after the House Judiciary Committee's commercial and administrative law subcommittee is expected to hold a hearing on the controversy.

Meanwhile, ISD/Shaw president Karen Shaw Petrou is taking some heat for a recent off-the-cuff remark she made about know-your-customer letter- writers.

In the Feb. 10 issue of American Banker, Ms. Petrou said it was unclear whether public opposition to the proposal is broad-based or coming from a few "fairly black-helicopter type Web sites."

Ms. Petrou said she subsequently received a "very serious and highly aggrieved letter" from a New Hampshire banker. The banker enclosed a comment letter written by the state's civil liberties union, a group he said was hardly a "black-helicopter type."

"People just can't take a joke," Ms. Petrou said. "Especially, I suppose, if they're bankers."

Jonathan D. Jerison has left ISD/Shaw after seven years to join the Goodwin, Procter & Hoar law firm here, where he will help clients adhere to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures and Truth-in-Lending acts.

Given his latest peace overtures, the next stop for Kenneth A. Guenther may be Kosovo.

The executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America leaked word last week that his trade group is considering recruiting small credit unions as a way to gain more lobbying strength on Capitol Hill. The group was scheduled to discuss it over the weekend at a strategic planning meeting in Tampa.

Crazy as it sounds, former IBAA president Richard L. Mount agrees that small banks and small credit unions have a lot in common.

"In my opinion, and I'll get shot for saying this, we should make a real effort to attract small mom-and-pop credit unions as members to the IBAA," the president and chief executive of Saratoga National Bank in California said in the recent issue of the trade group's magazine.

"They've shown that they have the political muscle. You combine the two organizations, and all of a sudden you have real political clout in Washington. I don't worry about the small credit unions. It's the bigger credit unions that bother me."

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm needs professional help. At least that was the conclusion of John E. Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, after seeing the Texas Republican's latest plan to reform the Community Reinvestment Act.

"He has gone off the deep end," Mr. Taylor said. "He really needs to see all the good that has come out of CRA and stop picking at a scab that doesn't exist."

Sen. Gramm's proposal offers most banks a safe harbor from CRA protests and threatens jail time for any banker who pays an activist to testify about an institution's CRA record.

The Senate Banking Committee is to lose a veteran member. Sen. Richard Bryan announced last week that he will not run for reelection next year. The Nevada Democrat has been on the banking panel since 1988.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight is trying to calm the industry's concerns over the impending risk-based capital rule for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

"The sky will not fall when our proposed rule is released," acting OFHEO Director Mark Kinsey told a National Association of Realtors audience Friday.

The plan, expected to go to Congress Thursday before being published for public comment, would rely on a stress test to ensure that the government- sponsored enterprises have enough capital to handle a sudden shift in the market, Mr. Kinsey said.

"OFHEO did not develop the proposed rule in an ivory tower," he said, noting that it had consulted with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, mortgage insurance companies, rating agencies, and large financial institutions.

Mr. Kinsey said the comment period will last through the summer.

The Securities Industry Association has recruited an aide to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as a lobbyist.

Rachel Robinson will be the group's vice president for government affairs. She will report to SIA senior vice president Steve Judge and work on financial reform legislation.

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