WASHINGTON-In withdrawing her name from the presidential nomination as chair of the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB), former NCUA Board member Shirlee Bown said the decision just made sense. Originally, Bown believed that she would be nominated to serve a full seven-year term. She ultimately realized that she would only be serving out the remainder of Acting Chairman Tim O'Neill's term. Bown decided that giving up her business and relocating from Florida to Washington for a term of just over two years was not practical. She is president of S. Bown & Company, a planning and housing consulting firm. She also serves on the board of Florida Central Credit Union, another position she would have to give up for the job. "It is a prestigious position.but then I did what we all have to, you have to put the practicalities into the mix," she said. While her term could have been extended for a full seven years, she was wary of the uncertainties 2004-the year her term would expire and an election year-would bring. While she does not doubt President George W. Bush's reelection, she was concerned about the willingness of a Democrat-controlled Senate in an election year appointing a Republican. Bown said lawyers at the FHFB have interpreted the agency terms as "rolling," so one would have to be completed before the start of a new one, similar to NCUA. Efforts to work around the end of O'Neill's term were fruitless as of two days before the Senate confirmation hearing, scheduled for November 15, so Bown withdrew her name from the nomination. Three other FHFB nominees were questioned during the confirmation hearing. "While my desire to serve remains strong, I find the costs of moving to Washington, disposing of my business, dismantling other business interests as well as volunteer activities is too costly for such a short stint," she wrote in a letter to President Bush, requesting her name be removed from consideration. Bown continued, "In addition, I believe there is a great deal that can and should be accomplished in this job but would be difficult to accomplish in the `lame duck' position of having been assigned the shortest term on the Board." When asked if her decision could take her out of the running for future positions, Bown said that would be up to the White House. "I am highly honored to be nominated by President Bush and would have certainly liked to serve in this position," she said. The introduction to her letter to the president echoed this sentiment. "The opportunity to play a role in providing affordable housing to American families is an opportunity I relish," she wrote. [email protected]

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