Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., recently took over as general chairman of the Democratic National Committee, becoming the third Senate Banking Committee member with a major role in the 1996 elections.

Sen. Dodd, who lost in a last-minute race to become the Senate minority leader, will not give up any of his duties in the Senate. Instead, the daily operations of the Democratic party will be handed over to Don Fowler, a South Carolina party official, who will become DNC co-chairman.

Another member of the banking committee, Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Tex., advanced his presidential ambitions by winning a straw poll in Louisiana earlier in the month. Although the vote is meaningless, it was the first such vote of the campaign season.

Sen. Gramm, who campaigned as though the poll were a major event, won with a convincing 72% of the votes. Among his campaign managers was Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., a member of the House Banking Committee.

Rounding out the field of party leaders is Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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Former Resolution Trust Corp. official Peter H. Monroe has landed a job as president of Sembler Management, a new real estate administration subsidiary of Sembler Co. Sembler is a property development firm in St. Petersburg, Fla.

For three years ended in June 1993, Mr. Monroe was president of the RTC's oversight board.

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There are some new faces at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Karen Solomon, who was a deputy chief counsel and the director of the regulations and legislation division at the Office of Thrift Supervision, joins the OCC as a special counsel. She starts this week and will be responsible for special legislative and regulatory projects.

Raymond Natter joined the agency last week as deputy chief counsel. He had been the Senate Banking Committee's minority general counsel.

Finally, Daniel Stipano, an assistant director in the OCC's enforcement and compliance division, has been promoted to head of the division. His division takes enforcement actions against national banks and their officers and directors.

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The White House won't take no for an answer. It has renominated lawyer J. Timothy O'Neill and former House member Bruce A. Morrison to empty seats on the Federal Housing Finance Board, the agency that oversees the Federal Home Loan Bank System.

The nominations were held up last year by Senate Banking Committee Republicans, and many observers doubt they will fare any better this year.

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Well, it's official. S&L bad boy Charlie Keating is officially banned from banking. The OTS tried to ban him from the industry and fine him $36 million in October 1993.

But Mr. Keating, serving time for running his Lincoln Savings and Loan into the ground and leaving taxpayers to pay the tab, appealed the OTS decision. Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit flatly rejected his appeal.

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The Federal Reserve Board added to its Consumer Advisory Council a new chairman and vice chairman, and 13 new members.

James L. West, president of Jim West Financial Group, takes over as chairman of the congressionally created panel that advises the governors on consumer-related matters. He is joined by Katharine W. McKee, transition director for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund in Washington, D.C., who becomes vice chairwoman.

The members include Thomas R. Butler, president and chief operating officer of Discover Card Services; Robert A. Cook, a partner at Venable, Baetjer & Howard; Emanuel Freeman, a Philadelphia resident and president of the Greater Germantown Housing Development Corp.; David C. Flynn, senior vice president of National City Bank of Ohio; Robert G. Greer, chairman of Houston's Tanglewood Bank; and journalist Kenneth R. Harney.

Other new members include Gail K. Hillebrand, litigation counsel to the Consumers Union; Terry Jorde, president of Towner County State Bank of North Dakota; Eugene I. Lehrmann, president of the American Association of Retired Persons; Ronald A. Prill, vice president for credit at Mervyn's department store; Lisa Rice-Coleman, executive director of Toledo's Fair Housing Center; John R. Rines, president of General Motors Acceptance Corp.; and Julia M. Seward, a vice president of Signet Bank.

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