According to a source familiar with the request, Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin declined to commit to resigning if and when a Democrat takes over the White House.
The source said the request came from Democratic commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, whose own term is up this year and whose renomination has yet to come through.
"Commissioner Adelstein has gone to the chairman," the source said, "and asked for a letter [to Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)] saying [Martin] will resign when a new administration comes in if a Democrat is elected president."
The chairman has not heard from any other commissioners, according to the source, who said Martin was not prepared one year out to say he would commit to leaving at a certain date or regardless of what was happening at the commission at the time, say a key vote or an issue related to the digital-TV transition -- the switchover date is Feb. 17, 2009, some four weeks after the Jan. 20 political switchover.
The source stressed that Martin's refusal to set a hard date for his departure did not mean he would necessarily remain on as a commissioner beyond that date, either -- the new Democratic president would name a Democratic chairman. "For that matter, he still expects a Republican to be elected," the source added.
Martin has two children, has suggested that he is outgrowing his two-bedroom house -- now on the market -- and after eight years on a government salary likely has more lucrative opportunities in the private sector.
He has also been suggested to be eyeing a run for office in his home state of North Carolina, although he has not publicly joined those making the suggestion.
If Martin doesn't leave and a Democrat takes over the White House, there could be a Democratic chairman -- Democrat Michael Copps or Adelstein -- but with a Republican majority until commissioner Robert McDowell's term is up in June 2009.