BILLINGS, Mont. -

A Montana coal executive has dropped out of a group seeking to take control of Stillwater Mining Co. after questions were raised about his academic credentials.
    
The New York-based Clinton Group, which is leading the takeover attempt, said Tuesday that Signal Peak Energy President John DeMichiei (DEE--muh-shay) asked to be removed from a slate of new directors proposed for precious metals miner Stillwater.
    
The move comes after Stillwater CEO Frank McAllister on Monday challenged whether DeMichiei received two university degrees that were listed under his name in a biography circulated by the Clinton Group.
    
DeMichiei could not be immediately reached for comment.
    
Clinton Group managing director Gregory Taxin says DeMichiei was unwilling to have his reputation sullied.
    
Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer is among the Clinton Group's seven remaining nominees.