WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, Senator Debbie Stabenow and Senator Chuck Schumer called on President Bush to immediately remove Michael Brown as the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Senators wrote that bringing Brown back to Washington to oversee more disasters is the wrong decision for the American people. His failures in the Gulf Coast region over the past two weeks and his reported biographical fabrications demand his removal.
A text of the letter is pasted below:
September 9, 2005
President George Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Bush:
We write to request the immediate removal of Michael Brown as the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The events of the last ten days have shown that Mr. Brown has repeatedly exercised poor judgment and has failed in his basic responsibilities. His continued presence in this critical position endangers the success of the ongoing recovery efforts.
It is not enough to remove Mr. Brown from the disaster scene as Secretary Chertoff announced today. The individual in charge of FEMA must inspire confidence and be able to coordinate hundreds of federal, state and local resources. Mr. Brown simply doesn’t have the ability or the experience to oversee a coordinated federal response of this magnitude
Mr. Brown and the political leadership at FEMA have been roundly criticized for their slow, chaotic and inadequate response to provide relief to the victims of Katrina. Now we learn from a Time Magazine investigation that he padded his resume and claimed emergency management experience prior to his appointment, when he really had no experience at all. This clearly raises serious questions to his qualifications and to his character.
Mr. Brown’s official biography on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website describes his only emergency management experience was his work as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight. Similarly, the White House press release that accompanied his nomination as the head of FEMA stated that Mr. Brown had worked for the city of Edmond, Oklahoma from 1975 to 1978 overseeing the emergency services division.
According to the Time Magazine report, these biographical claims as well as a series of others are either untrue or exaggerations. A spokesperson for the City of Edmond is quoted in the article as saying that Mr. Brown was merely an assistant in the City Managers Office, not a manager himself. That department heads did not report to him and that he was more of an intern.
It is deeply disturbing that a senior administration official with serious responsibilities that could impact the life and death of millions of Americans would engage in an effort to fabricate his qualifications as has been alleged. State and local officials turn to FEMA for their expertise and experience when disaster strikes. Leaders of this crucial federal agency should not be little more than political appointees honored for their political service.
If we have learned anything so far in this crisis, it is that when FEMA fails, it is Americans who suffer. The American people deserve answers to the many questions raised by last week’s failures and we hope that in the weeks and months ahead tough questions are asked and honest answers are given. In order to begin to deal with the many failures of FEMA and get this relief effort on track we need to start by immediately installing a new management team at FEMA.
The American people expect more, and so do we.
HARRY M. REID – Democratic Leader
RICHARD DURBIN – Assistant Democratic Leader