The top lawyer for the National Endowment for the Arts has resigned, the Los Angeles Times learned yesterday, possibly setting up a confrontation with senior White House officials, who are expected to try to place a conservative in the position.
The resignation of Julianne Ross Davis, NEA general counsel since January 1990, was disclosed in an April 12 memorandum signed by NEA Chairman John E. Frohnmayer. Davis, who practiced law with Frohnmayer in Portland, Ore., before Frohnmayer was named to his job by President Bush, is the NEA chairman's most trusted adviser.
Frohnmayer also disclosed the resignation of Cindy Rand, deputy chairman for management, to go to the Department of Transportation.
Davis is expected to return to Portland sometime after July 4.
Sources familiar with the situation said that White House chief of staff John H. Sununu was expected to press Frohnmayer to accept a lawyer with strong conservative credentials to take over Davis' duties. Earlier this year, Frohnmayer clashed with the White House when officials there attempted to force him to accept applicants for two other top positions. Frohnmayer beat off one of the initiatives but accepted Anne Radice, now NEA senior deputy chairman.
Separately, the White House on Tuesday nominated Louise McClure, wife of former Idaho Republican Sen. James McClure, for membership on the NEA's policy-making National Council on the Arts.