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The banking ties that bind Sink and McCollum

When Democrat Alex Sink announced she was running for governor recently, the Republican Party instantly branded her a "former banker," invoking the ugliness of subprime loans, corporate greed and government bailouts.

But by raising questions about Sink, the state's chief financial officer and longtime Bank of America executive, the party walks a precarious line.

The GOP's own candidate, Attorney General Bill McCollum, spent 20 years in Congress, all of them on the committee that oversees banking, and he advocated many of the industry's issues. When McCollum left Congress in 2001, he became a lobbyist. His first client: the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

With next year's governor's race likely to be overshadowed by a fractured economy and Florida's crippled housing market, a central question will be whether Sink or McCollum had any role in promoting or preventing the crisis.

"Sink has the DNA of a banker and McCollum has acquired some of the DNA because he represented bankers for so long,'' said Ken Thomas, an independent banking consultant in Miami who teaches at the Wharton School of Business. "Neither of them have done big favors for consumers.'' (story here)