S&L Nominee Weighs Withdrawal; Raps Agency
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton’s choice to head the government’s savings and loan cleanup agency said Thursday he’s considering withdrawing because the Senate has refused to consider his nomination.
Stanley Tate’s selection has been controversial because of allegations that he improperly used his influence - both after he was nominated and as chairman of a Resolution Trust Corp. regional advisory board in Florida.
Tate, in a telephone interview from his Miami office, denied any wrongdoing. He said that RTC officials were trying to scuttle his nomination because he was ready to tackle ″waste and possible fraud″ in the agency.
The 65-year-old real estate developer acknowledged that confirmation was unlikely.
″I’m seriously considering it (withdrawing),″ he said. ″I don’t see any alternative.″ Tate, who has been working at the RTC as a senior adviser, added, ″I’m not a quitter.″
Roger Altman, deputy Treasury secretary and interim head of the RTC, commented, ″We have been steadfastly trying to work with the Senate Banking Committee to move the nomination forward. We sent the nomination up and we are awaiting a senatorial response. Our position has not changed.″
Tate said the chairman of the banking committee, Sen. Donald Riegle, D- Mich., has refused to hold a hearing or to meet with him - and there appeared little chance he would do either in the future.
Riegle has said he would not act on the nomination until he has heard Tate’s plan to attack the RTC’s management woes.
Thirteen former and current RTC employees testified before the banking panel in September about a host of alleged irregularities at the agency.
These included allegations of manipulation of agency contracts, managerial incompetence, retaliation against whistle blowers and sexual harassment of employees by managers.
Asked whether he saw a way to get a Senate confirmation hearing Tate said, ″Probably not. But I want to be able to do it (withdraw) in my way so I can hold my head up.″
Tate released a letter that he sent to President Clinton on Wednesday, telling Clinton of his concerns.
″Mr. President, Sen. Riegle’s unwillingness to consider your nomination of me to be chief executive officer of the Resolution Trust Corporation is materially contributing to significant management and operational problems at the RTC,″ Tate said.
″I would appreciate an appointment with you to discuss this matter and possible courses of action,″ he said.
Congress this week gave final authorization for the RTC to spend up to $18.3 billion to finish the job of shutting down failed thrifts.
The Associated Press reported in October that Tate asked a contractor overseeing the sale of an RTC property to reconsider the bid of a Florida couple who were Tate’s friends. The request came notwithstanding two higher bids, according to agency officials and documents.
Tate helped the couple in late 1992 and early 1993 while he was chairman of an RTC regional advisory board in Florida, and was subject to ethics rules barring such assistance to friends in agency matters, it was reported. The couple’s bid was not accepted.
Tate said in the interview that he made it clear in the Florida case that the property in question should have been ″sold to whoever is the highest bidder.″
The AP also reported in October that while awaiting confirmation, Tate requested confidential case files involving the head of a failed Florida thrift whom Tate had known for years.
Tate has made previous statements that he returned the files unopened when he learned the documents were privileged.
Another AP story reported that Tate took the unusual step of attending a normally closed ethics review meeting to urge that officials reconsider their decision to strip RTC contracts from the former law firm of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La.
″I was requested by the vice president of the RTC to attend the meeting,″ Tate said in the interview, adding, ″I advised that if anyone had problems with my being there, I would leave. Not a single person asked me to get up and leave.″
Tate said he did not know Jefferson nor anyone at the law firm.
″Every allegation was an outright lie,″ Tate said, contending that unnamed RTC employees have been spreading such stories ″because I dug in and found things that would be distressing to the American taxpayer... .″
Saying he would be more specific about his conclusions, possibly next week, Tate said his findings included ″misappropriation of funds, dealing on issues that might have benefits to individuals who are in the RTC and ... legal fees paid to outside counsel.″