By: RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer
(AP) Federal Emergency Management Agency director Mike Brown said Monday he has resigned “in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president,” three days after losing his onsite command of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
“The focus has got to be on FEMA, what the people are trying to do down there,” Brown told The Associated Press.
His decision was not a surprise. Brown was abruptly recalled to Washington on Friday, a clear vote of no confidence from his superiors at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security. Brown had been roundly criticized for FEMA’s bearish response to the hurricane, which has caused political problem for Bush and fellow Republicans.
“I’m turning in my resignation today,” Brown said. “I think it’s in the best interest of the agency and the best interest of the president to do that and get the media focused on the good things that are going on, instead of me.”
Brown, who said he last talked to Bush five or six days ago, said the resignation was his idea. He spoke on Saturday to White House chief of staff Andy Card, who did not request his departure, according to Brown.
He said he feared he was becoming a distraction to FEMA’s relief effort.
“I came to the conclusion that this was in the best interest of not just the administration and not just me, but FEMA,” he said. “They need to be focused on the continuing efforts in the Gulf.”
Shortly after Brown was recalled to Washington last week, officials close to the FEMA director said he would likely resign. They said that even before Katrina, Brown had been planning on leaving the administration late this fall to go into the private sector.