Federal City Digest

Federal City Digest

(By Mark Lennihan -- Associated Press)
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

An EPA Nominee Steps Aside

President Obama's pick for the No. 2 spot at the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew his name from consideration yesterday, citing scrutiny of his former affiliation with a now-defunct nonprofit that in 2007 was found by the EPA inspector general's office to have mismanaged more than $25 million in grants from the agency.

"It has come to my attention that America's Clean Water Foundation, where I once served on the board of directors, has become the subject of scrutiny," the nominee for deputy EPA administrator, Jonathan Z. Cannon, said in a statement released by the EPA withdrawing his name. "While my service on the board of that now-dissolved organization is not the subject of the scrutiny . . . I do not wish to present any distraction to the agency."

The foundation was found to have funneled more than $21 million in EPA funds to a contractor, Validus Services, a subsidiary of the American Pork Producers Council. The inspector general recommended that the EPA try to recover all $25 million the agency had shelled out to Clean Water to help farmers and states comply with water-pollution laws and assess environmental risks. The foundation disbanded in 2006.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said the agency will "move quickly to identify a new candidate."

Cannon's move came the day before his Senate nomination hearing was scheduled to begin.

WHAT TO WATCH

-- Obama will hold an online town hall meeting at 11:30 a.m., answering questions submitted online at WhiteHouse.gov's "Open for Questions" page and voted on by the public. Top questions at press time revolved around jobs, anti-drug efforts and college affordability.

-- Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, above, will get another opportunity to exercise his self-restraint in the face of congressional questioning and activist heckling at a 10 a.m. House Financial Services Committee hearing titled "Addressing the Need for Comprehensive Regulatory Reform," where he will be back at the testimony table.

-- A number of nomination hearings on important foreign policy and defense posts are being held on the Hill today, among them the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's hearing on Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry to be U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, where Eikenberry has served two tours of duty. The nominations of Rose Gottemoeller to be assistant secretary for verification and compliance and Philip Gordon to be assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs at the State Department also get a Foreign Relations hearing.

At 9:30 a.m., the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on three Defense Department nominations: Ashton B. Carter as undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics; James Miller as deputy undersecretary for policy; and Alexander Vershbow as assistant secretary for international security affairs. And at 10 a.m., the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Jane Holl Lute to be deputy secretary of homeland security.

-- Garance Franke-Ruta federalcity@washpost.com


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