Robert H. Swan sued President Clinton Tuesday to reverse his termination as a director of the National Credit Union Administration.
At a press conference here, Mr. Swan's attorney, Richard Willard, said the White House broke the law because it does not have the authority to remove board members of independent agencies.
"It is clear that NCUA was set up to be an independent agency, and that means the members of the board do not serve at the pleasure of the President," said Mr. Willard, a partner at the Washington law firm Steptoe & Johnson.
The Clinton administration ousted Mr. Swan April 9, and three days later named banking attorney Yolanda T. Wheat, in a recess appointment. The lawsuit also alleges that Ms. Wheat was appointed illegally because the Senate was not technically in recess at the time. In addition, Mr. Willard said, there was no vacancy on the NCUA board for the President to fill because Mr. Swan's termination was illegal.
Mr. Swan's six-year term expired last August, but he has refused to step down until the Senate confirms his successor.
In addition to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. district court here, Mr. Swan filed a temporary injunction to block Ms. Wheat's appointment. This would allow Mr. Swan to serve on the NCUA board until the court reaches final judgment. The court is expected to hold a hearing on the temporary injunction within two weeks.