WASHINGTON -- Ricki Tigert's nomination to head the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. appears to have fallen victim to Senate Republicans' continued effort to use the Whitewatercontroversy against her.

"She's dead," said a staff aide to a Democratic legislator.

Saturday was the start of the FDICs third year without a permanent chairman.

"I fail to see how her nomination can ever be resurrected," said another Washington source, adding that the Clinton administration can't press her nomination because it would be criticized as trying to get another "Friend of Bill" appointed.

The Senate's 44 Republicans first used a hold on Ms. Tigert's nomination as leverage to force the Democrats to hold hearings on Whitewater, the catchall for a panoply of alleged wrongdoings involving President Clinton, his wife, Hillary, the failed Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, and an Arkansas real estate development company.

Now that two weeks of Whitewater hearings have concluded, sources all over Washington said last week that Ms. Tigert's chances of ever being installed at the FDIC are slim.

Her main problem is perception. During her confirmation hearing last February, Ms. Tigert left the impression that she is close friends with Mrs. Clinton.

The Whitewater hearings featured Treasury Deputy Secretary Roger Altman, who was also acting chairman of the Resolution Trust Corp. Republicans and some Democrats said Mr. Altman's actions were influenced by the fact that he is close to President Clinton.

That did not help Ms. Tigert. Republicans seem to have concluded that, because Ms. Tigert is another friend of the Clintons, she should not head a banking agency.

A spokesman for Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., ranking minority member on the Senate Banking Committee, said Friday that the hold on Ms. Tigert's nomination remains in place.

"Nothing has changed. The recent Whitewater hearings were phase 1," he said. "'The process has not been completed."

Sen. Lanch Faircloth cast the tone vote against Ms. Tigert when the banking panel considered her nomination last winter. And the North Carolina Republican is still determined to keep her off the FDIC.

"Sen. Faircloth believes that, based on the revelations that came out of the hearings,.. it is more important than ever that the FDIC chairman be someone truly independent, not a friend of the President's or Mrs. Clinton's" said a spokesman for the senator.

That has made it difficult for Ms. Tigert, no matter how casual her acquaintance with the Clintons, to be confirmed. It is ironic that, in barring Ms. Tigert from the FDIC chair, the Republicans are actually compounding the problem, industry sources said last week.

Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig is much closer to the Clintons than Ms. Tigert, who allies say has only met the First Family in group settings and even then only infrequently. Mr. Ludwig has been pals with the President for more than 20 years. The comptroller, who holds a seat on the FDIC board, is the only bank regulator so far installed by the Clinton administration. This gives Mr. Ludwig more clout than either of the board's other two members.

Ms. Tigert, a Washington lawyer with nine years of experience in bank regulation, said she did not want to comment on the situation. Her career has been on hold since her nomination in November 1993.

The last Senate-confirmed chairman of the FDIC was William Taylor. When he died, Aug. 20, 1992, Vice Chairman Andrew C. "Skip" Hove Jr. became acting chairman. Mr. Hove has now been in the agency longer than many of its permanent chairmen. He is praised by staff and industry representatives as performing well under impossible circumstances. But everyone, including Mr. Hove, thinks the agency would be better off with a permanent chairman.

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