The head of a U.S. industrial oversight agency who was dogged by congressional criticism has resigned at President Barack Obama’s request, the White House said.
U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso stepped down on Thursday, a week after a bipartisan group of lawmakers asked Obama to fire him. An administration official confirmed that the White House had asked for his resignation.
The top Democratic and Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee along with 12 other members of the panel said in a March 18 letter to Obama that the board was “in a state of turmoil.” They asked the president to replace its “toxic leadership.”
The lawmakers, led by committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, and Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, cited a search of an employee’s e-mail and a “pattern of retaliation against whistle-blowers” at the board among their complaints. Moure-Eraso also improperly used a private e-mail for government work, a 2013 inspector general’s report said.
Two senators, Republicans James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Mike Rounds of South Dakota, had also asked Obama to seek Moure- Eraso’s resignation.
Moure-Eraso, reached by phone, declined to comment.
“My wishes are for the continued success and productivity of the board,” he said in an e-mail sent to the board’s staff after his resignation yesterday, provided by Hillary Cohen, the board’s spokeswoman. “I am forever grateful for the hard work of the agency that has led to so many successes over the past five years.”
The Chemical Safety Board investigates industrial accidents such as the 2014 explosion in West, Texas that killed 14 people at a fertilizer plant.
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