On his first day at the helm of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., acting Chairman Andrew C. "Skip" Hove Jr. asked senior staff member Leslie A. Woolley to resign.
Ms. Woolley, deputy chairman since November 1994, refused and asked congressional and industry leaders to call agency board members on her behalf, according to agency and industry sources.
Mr. Hove and Ms. Woolley would not comment Wednesday. "It's a personnel matter that hasn't been resolved," FDIC spokesman Robert M. Garsson said.
While the ousting of any senior-level member of the agency's staff is unusual, this incident is especially notable because Ms. Woolley has been promoting herself as a candidate for FDIC chairman.
During Ricki Helfer's tenure, Ms. Woolley was essentially the agency's chief of staff and had considerable control over what information was passed to board members, including Mr. Hove.
Ms. Helfer's last day as chairman was May 30, and President Clinton has not nominated a successor. On June 1, Mr. Hove, FDIC vice chairman since 1990, became acting chairman.
While versions of the story vary, several sources said agency rules required Mr. Hove to get a majority of the board's members to agree before dismissing Ms. Woolley.
The agency's four-member board-two Republicans, two Democrats-met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss the issue, according to a number of sources inside and outside the agency. These sources said the two Democrats, Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig and Office of Thrift Supervision Director Nicolas Retsinas, tabled the issue to give Ms. Woolley time to find another job.
This is Mr. Hove's third stint as acting chairman. The former Nebraskan banker ran the agency briefly in 1991 and from August 1992 when Bill Taylor died until October 1994 when Ms. Helfer was sworn in.
In a take-charge memo to the staff Monday, Mr. Hove said, "While I am acting chairman-whether it be one day, one month, or several months or longer-I intend to make whatever changes are necessary to continue our important mission."
But Ms. Woolley has a strong base of support. Before joining the FDIC, she spent 16 years on Capitol Hill working for Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla.
Meanwhile, Sharon Powers Sivertsen quit this week as the agency's director of policy development to "spend more time with her family," according to a release issued Wednesday.
Replacing Ms. Sivertsen is Robert W. Russell, a special assistant to Ms. Helfer since March 1996.