Knight Ridder Exposes Horsey Background of FEMA Chief

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By: E&P Staff

So who is Michael Brown, now catching all kinds of criticism for his handling of the catastrophe in New Orleans? It seems his primary career experience before nabbing a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) post was running an Arabian horse association. An article by Matt Stearns and Seth Borenstein for Knight Ridder Newspapers observes, “there was little in Michael D. Brown’s background to prepare him for the fury of Hurricane Katrina.”

The reporters quote Kate Hale, former Miami-Dade
emergency management chief: “He’s done a hell of a job, because I’m not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm. The world that this man operated in and
the focus of this work does not in any way translate to this. He does not have the experience.”

During the 1990s, Brown served as judges and stewards commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. His job was to ensure that horse-show judges followed the rules and to investigate allegations against those suspected of cheating. “I wouldn’t have regarded his position in the horse industry as a platform to where he is now,” said Tom Connelly, a former association president. The reporters refer to Brown’s stormy years with the horses as a “rocky tenure.”

But Brown knew Joe Allbaugh, President Bush’s 2000
campaign manager. Allbaugh took over FEMA in 2001, and hired Brown as general counsel.

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