WASHINGTON - Before turning over the reins of power, President Clinton is expected to promote Yolanda T. Wheat, a Democrat, to chairman of the National Credit Union Administration.
A board member since April 1996, Ms. Wheat would succeed Norman E. D'Amours, who resigned Thursday after seven years as chairman. Mr. D'Amours' term officially ended in August 1999, but he stayed on because the Senate did not confirm a successor.
President Clinton is also expected to put Geoff Bacino on the three-person board through a recess appointment early this week. Mr. Bacino, president of Bacino & Associates, an Alexandria, Va., lobbying and public relations firm, said Friday that he does not have any particular issues he would champion on the board.
Mr. Bacino said he is closing down his business. Though he said he is not certain what his fate will be after George W. Bush's inauguration, he plans to ask to be renominated and fill the remainder of the term. President Clinton first nominated Mr. Bacino in July, but his nomination stalled in the Senate.
Ms. Wheat's tenure is likely to be short-lived, as the President-elect is expected to name as chairman the NCUA's Republican board member, Dennis Dollar, as chairman. Mr. Dollar was out of the office Friday, and Ms. Wheat did not return a call seeking comment.
Ms. Wheat's term on the board expires in August. Mr. Dollar's term runs through April 2003.
The NCUA regulates and insures approximately 7,000 federal credit unions and insures 4,000 state-chartered credit unions. The institutions have a combined asset total of $300 billion.
Mr. D'Amours' tenure was at times stormy, and his support among credit unions has ebbed in recent years.
Rather than rehashing old fights, Fred Becker, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, simply said that "it is time to move on," and that he hopes a Republican administration will produce lighter regulation, as well as growth and innovation among credit unions.
Mr. Dollar's regulatory flexibility proposal, which was kept off the NCUA's agendas by Mr. D'Amours, could be resurrected this year when a second Republican is put on the board, Mr. Becker said. Credit unions favor the "Reg-Flex" proposal, because it would relieve some regulatory burdens on institutions with high capital and performance ratings.
Mr. D'Amours, who did not return phone calls Friday, reportedly only agreed to leave the agency after White House officials threatened to fire him.
In fact, his letter to President Clinton does not mention resigning. Instead, Mr. D'Amours told the President: "I thoroughly appreciated being able to help your administration bring the benefits of financial services to low and moderate income Americans as well as helping to implement the spirit of your new markets initiatives."
Before his appointment as chairman, Mr. D'Amours had worked as a lawyer and federal government consultant. He represented New Hampshire as a member of the House of Representatives from 1975 to 1985.
Bankers also had their run-ins with Mr. D'Amours, but Keith J. Leggett, a senior economist at the American Bankers Association, said a Republican-controlled board is unlikely to favor banks' interests.
"Banks are going to continue to see the NCUA board push to expand their powers and the chartering authority of credit unions," he said. "I do not think banks should take any comfort in the fact that Mr. D'Amours is stepping down."