Norman E. D'Amours, chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, said he believes his standing with the White House and the industry will weather recent disclosures that he was arrested and charged with domestic assault last fall.
Mr. D'Amours, who was arrested Oct. 21 as he and his wife, Helen, argued on a street in South Hadley, Mass., downplayed the event as a simple argument. His wife has described the incident as a "harmless" spat.
"It was the kind of argument anyone has with an old friend or a spouse," Mr. D'Amours said in a recent interview. "Helen and I are very embarrassed."
His wife isn't pressing charges, and the charges are expected to be dropped Jan. 21, he said.
Mr. D'Amours, a presidential appointee, said he was confident that the White House would not be concerned about the flap, which was reported Dec. 20 by the Credit Union Times. He said in a statement that he didn't notify the Clinton administration.
"This was a harmless domestic spat," he said.
A White House spokesman agreed.
"The administration takes very seriously any allegation of domestic abuse," the spokesman said. "But in this case both parties have admitted it was a misunderstanding in terms of how it was handled. It wasn't a case of domestic violence."
The incident occurred when the couple was returning from a family wedding to Mr. D'Amours' mother's house, where they were staying.
The wedding reception ended late and Mrs. D'Amours, the designated driver, got lost on the drive back, the agency chairman said. An argument followed and eventually Mrs. D'Amours pulled over and said she was going to walk back. She took the keys with her.
Mr. D'Amours said he followed her to get the keys and when she didn't stop, he grabbed and held her.
"I followed her and grabbed her and she started yelling, 'Stop that! Help me!"' Mr. D'Amours said.
Almost immediately a police cruiser was on the scene, and, despite protests from Ms. D'Amours, an officer proceeded to arrest and charge Mr. D'Amours with assault and battery, the regulator said.
Mr. D'Amours was then held in a jail several hours and released.
Ms. D'Amours declined to comment, but in a prepared statement issued jointly with her husband, she described the matter as a "harmless but very badly timed spat in a loving, 30-year marriage."
Mr. D'Amours said he didn't think it would hurt his relations with the industry, although it might give some of his opponents ammunition.
"I don't think this will have an effect on my relationship with the industry," Mr. D'Amours said in an interview. But "there are people out there who have been less than receptive to me as an individual for a couple of years, and that has never bothered me."
"There has been very little feedback," he said in a release. "All of it has been very supportive or sympathetic."
Ken Robinson, president of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, said he doubted the industry would vilify Mr. D'Amours because of the arrest.
"I think most people will think it was an unfortunate incident," Mr. Robinson said.