Bush picks Annapolis publisher to chair Export-Import Bank

Merrill's nomination to be sent to Senate

October 01, 2002|By Paul Adams | Paul Adams,SUN STAFF

President Bush will nominate Phillip Merrill, publisher of the Annapolis Capital newspaper and Washingtonian magazine, to head the Export-Import Bank, the White House announced yesterday.

Created in 1934, the bank is charged with providing loans and loan guarantees aimed at helping American exporters prevail against heavily subsidized overseas competitors. Merrill will take over at a time when the bank is under increasing fire from critics who accuse it of giving multimillion-dollar loans to rich corporations, which turn around and send jobs overseas.

The agency's profile was raised recently when it was revealed that bankrupt energy trader Enron Corp. owes more than $500 million to the bank from past loans. Corporate giants such as Boeing Co., Caterpillar Inc. and General Electric Co. have all received loans from the bank in recent years, feeding allegations of corporate welfare. Also on the list is Halliburton Co., the company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney.

"The next person to take over as chairman of the Export-Import Bank should certainly focus all of their activity on providing financial assistance to small and medium-size businesses that are interested in increasing U.S. jobs and not shipping those jobs overseas," said Warren Gunnels, legislative director for Rep. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is a vocal critic of the bank.

Merrill, who did not return calls to his home and office yesterday, heads Capital-Gazette Communications Inc. and is a prominent Republican donor, contributing more than $118,000 to candidates in the 1996 campaign cycle.

Last year he made headlines with a $10 million gift to the University of Maryland, College Park's College of Journalism, which now bears his name. He also gave $7.5 million to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for a new building that bears his name.

Merrill was assistant secretary general of NATO during 1990-1992 and has filled a variety of posts for six administrations. His experience includes serving as a member of the Defense Policy Board, counselor to the under secretary of defense for policy, special assistant to the deputy secretary of state and senior intelligence analyst for South Asia at the State Department. He is a U.S. director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and vice chairman of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Merrill, whose nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate, would serve the remainder of the four-year term left vacant by the death of John E. Robson in March. The term will expire on Jan. 20, 2005.

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