President Obama has accepted the resignation of Commerce Secretary John Bryson after 10 days on medical leave for a seizure suffered in the Los Angeles area, the White House said in a statement Thursday.
Bryson said the seizure could distract from his ability to perform his job, according to a letter to Commerce Department employees posted on the department’s Website.
Bryson’s seizure was linked to two incidents in which the car he was driving struck two other vehicles outside Los Angeles. Local law enforcement authorities are looking into whether to charge Bryson with felony hit-and-run after he left the scene of one accident and hit another car several minutes later. Rescue personnel found him slumped over the steering wheel.
Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank was named acting secretary while Bryson was on medical leave. Bryson will continue to serve on the President’s Export Council, the White House statement said.
Bryson was on the job less than nine months after replacing Gary Locke, who is now ambassador to China.
In other administration news of importance to trade and transportation interests, Obama nominated Polly Trottenberg to be undersecretary of transportation.
The position has been empty since last year when Roy Kienitz returned to the private sector.
Trottenberg is currently assistant secretary for transportation policy at DOT. She has played a leading role developing the administration’s policy on surface transportation reauthorization, high-speed rail, and the TIGER grant program, as well as overseeing offices responsible for infrastructure finance, safety, environment and economic and strategic analysis.
She previously was executive director of Building America’s Future, a non-profit organization created by former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to promote infrastructure investment.
She spent a dozen years in the Senate working on transportation policy and also worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Massachusetts Port Authority early in her career.
Trottenberg’s promotion must be confirmed by the Senate. – Eric Kulisch