When he was appointed vice chairman of the Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Education in September, 1980, A. Craig Phillips told his president--then Jimmy Carter--that he'd serve until Aug. 31, 1984.
So when the administration sent him a letter saying his appointment had been terminated, he fired back a letter to President Reagan saying he would not sign the paperwork "until your office can provide to me clear evidence of the appropriate authority for termination of statutory presidential appointment to an advisory council established by congressional action."
The White House says the president has that authority, and a spokesman said the overhaul of the advisory council "reflected the president's desire to appoint individuals to these positions who reflect his philosophy of government."
But Phillips fears Reagan is seeking to disrupt the panel.
Meanwhile, Reagan has already named 20 new council members to the advisory panel. The action follows a pattern already established in Education and in other department and agencies, the appointment of one's own political supporters being one of the perks of power.
Phillips points to the Education Department's rules on the creation of advisory councils, which state: "The membership of an advisory committee shall be fairly balanced." However, 19 of the original 20 members of the panel, appointed in the Carter administration, were Democrats. And the Carter White House denied politics played any part in the choices.