Sam Zagoria, controversial nominee to a Republican seat on the Federal Election Commission, asked President Carter yesterday to withdraw his nomination.
Carter agreed "with regret" and the White House immediately announced Carter's intention to appoint Zagoria to "an appropriate high-level government position" in the near future.
The action fulfilled a promise made Thursday night by Frank Moore, the Carter administration's chief of congressional liaison, to Senate Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.), and ended a months-long stalemate between the White House and Republican leaders.
Baker and House Minority Leader John J. Rhodes (R-Ariz.) had accused President Carter of breaching an agreement with them to select a Republican nominee for the FEC only after "full consultation" with the GOP leaders. Zagoria was not one of the three people they had suggested.
White House aides said yesterday Republican leaders would suggest new names to Carter for possible nomination to the election commission.
In a letter yesterday to Carter, Zagoria said, "While there is reason to believe that the Senate would ultimately confirm my nomination to the Federal Election Commission, it has become increasingly clear that the delays involved in that process could tie up the Senate's business for some time.
"Because there are many issues before the Senate important both to you and to the country, it would be unfortunate if my nomination were to interfere with their resolution in the short time remaining in this session. I ask, therefore, that you withdraw my nomination to the commission."
Zagoria could not be reached for comment.
Baker, in a statement released through the White House, said he was pleased that Carter had agreed to withdraw Zagoria's nomination.
"As I stated in the hearing, and told Mr. Zagoria personally, I regret that he was caught up in this dispute," Baker said. "He is a distinguished civil servant and would be a real asset in some other appropriate government position."
It was uncertain yesterday what other appointment Zagoria might get.
President Carter called Zagoria "a talented and experienced individual" and added, "I am pleased that he is still willing to serve and that he is willing to explore with us several specific possibilities."
Zagoria is a former administrative assistant to Sen. Clifford Case (R-N.J.) and a former member of the National Labor Relations Board. He is now director of the labor-management relations service of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Zagoria was first nominated to the FEC position last October. The Senate failed to act and the nomination died at the end of the session. Zagoria was renominated in April.
The Senate Rules Committee was scheduled to vote on Zagoria's nomination last Friday, but canceled its session after the Thursday night agreement between Baker and Moore.
Last Wednesday, 132 House Republicans voiced opposition to Zagoria's nomination, saying Carter "has chosen to ignore his agreement with our party's leaders." Their remarks were in a letter to Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) that Hatfield read aloud at a hearing on Zagoria.
At another hearing Thursday, Baker and Rhodes repeated their charge that Carter had failed to fulfill an agreement on the FEC nomination. Republican leaders had threatened a filibuster if Zagoria's nomination reached the Senate floor.
White House aides said yesterday that Carter agreed to withdraw Zagoria's name because the election commission is particularly sensitive politically. The commission polices presidential and congressional campaign finances and approves public funds for presidential candidates.
The commission is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans appointed to staggered, six-year terms.