By Garance Franke-Ruta And Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, September 6, 2009
White House environmental adviser Van Jones resigned late Saturday after weeks of pressure from the right over his past activism.
"On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me," Jones, special adviser for green jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement announcing his resignation just after midnight Saturday. "They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide."
He continued: "I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future."
Jones issued two public apologies in recent days, one for signing a petition that questioned whether Bush administration officials "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war" and the other for using a crude term to describe Republicans in a speech he gave before joining the administration.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) called on Jones to resign Friday, saying in a statement, "His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate."
Senator Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) urged Congress to investigate Jones's "fitness" for the position, writing in an open letter, "Can the American people trust a senior White House official that is so cavalier in his association with such radical and repugnant sentiments?" On Saturday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) wrote on his Twitter account, "Van Jones has to go."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that Jones "continues to work for the administration" -- but he did not state that the adviser enjoys the full support of President Obama, instead referring questions to the environmental council where he worked.