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A new role for Lazio

Rick Lazio may have squandered $40 million on his failed race against Hillary Clinton for one of New York's Senate seats, but that doesn't mean he's shying away from attempting to reshape U.S. financial policy.

Rick Lazio may have squandered $40 million on his failed race against Hillary Clinton for one of New York's Senate seats, but that doesn't mean he's shying away from attempting to reshape U.S. financial policy. The former four-term Republican representative, who served as a member of the House Banking and Commerce committees, last month signed on as president of the Financial Services Forum, a new lobbying group whose members include chief executives Bill Harrison of J.P. Morgan Chase, Dave Komansky of Merrill Lynch and Phil Purcell of Morgan Stanley. Lazio, 43, describes the group as a hybrid of a think tank and a lobbying organization. "I see it as a logical extension of my work in Congress," he says. Lazio helped push through the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Modernization Act of 1999, which relaxed rules that prevented banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies from entering each other's businesses. He'll still be commuting in his new job: The forum will have offices in New York and Washington. Lazio expects the group to play a highly public and influential role in debates over such big-picture issues as reforming Social Security and breaking down global trade barriers. "One thing I'm not going to be involved in is developing public policy initiatives that go nowhere," he says. "We're going to expect results." Lazio, who lost to Clinton by a 12-point margin and was roundly criticized for running an ineffective campaign, says he isn't eager to reenter elective politics any time soon. "Never say never, but after what I've been through . . . ," he says ruefully. "I'm absolutely committed to this organization."