WASHINGTON -- State regulators and community bankers are not giving up on Ricki Tigert's nomination-as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

In letters to key lawmakers, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and the Independent Bankers Association of America urged the Senate to confirm Ms. Tigert and the other two nominees to the FDIC board, Andrew C. Hove and Anne Hall.

"What the FDIC needs is strong, permanent leadership and it needs it now," wrote Florida Comptroller Gerald Lewis, who is chairman of the state regulators' group. "Ms. Tigert is without question extremely well-qualified and capable to fill the void at the FDIC."

The FDIC's top spot has been vacant since August 1992 when William Taylor died. Mr. Hove stepped up from vice chairman and has been the agency's acting chairman the last two years.

While Mr. Hove "has done a highly credible job under trying circumstances," the IBAA said, "it is impossible for an individual in an acting capacity, who is awaiting his own confirmation, to bring the necessary independent political clout to the agency."

President Clinton picked Ms. Tigert last November and she was approved overwhelmingly by the Senate Banking Committee in February. But her appointment was sidetracked by partisan politics; Senate Republicans vowed to hold up Ms. Tigert until Congress agreed to conduct Whitewater hearings.

In two weeks of hearings this summer, Congress delved into whether Clinton administration officials interfered in the Resolution Trust Corp.'s investigation of a failed Arkansas thrift, Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan.

But as the first phase of the Whitewater investigation came to a close this month, Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, the banking committee's ranking minority member, repeated his plan to keep Ms. Tigert off the FDIC.

Time is running out on the nomination. If Ms. Tigert is not confirmed before Congress adjourns in October, her nomination would have to be resubmitted next year. President Clinton could give her a recess appointment, however.

Writing Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell Aug. 19, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors noted that Congress is consumed with health-care reform legislation. "We would not raise the issue of a nomination at this time but for our absolute conviction that the timely confirmation of Ms. Tigert of the FDIC is necessary for the future stability of the banking system," Mr. Lewis wrote.

Writing Aug. 23 to all Senate Republicans, IBAA executive vice president Kenneth A. Guenther said Ms. Tigert's confirmation is crucial to "the continued independence of the FDIC."

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