Trump FEMA nominee withdraws after questions on Katrina response
President Trump’s choice for a top job at the Federal Emergency Management Agency has withdrawn after questions about his work during Hurricane Katrina.
Former nominee Daniel A. Craig told NBC News on Wednesday that he had withdrawn because of “the distraction this will cause the Agency in a time they cannot afford to lose focus.”
The “distraction” stemmed from a previous investigation by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security over whether Craig profited himself in the response to Katrina.
FEMA was condemned for its initial response to the 2005 storm, which devastated parts of the Gulf Coast including New Orleans.
Craig was director of recovery for FEMA from 2003 through 2005, according to a biography on his most recent company, the private disaster firm Adjusters International
A 2011 report on the investigation into him seen by NBC said that he was looking for a job with one of the companies receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA contracts.
He left government to lobby for the Miami law firm Akerman Senterfitt, which was working with a client that received FEMA contracts, and investigators’ report says that he soon after expensed dinner with two FEMA employees.
Both the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General said that there was not enough evidence to prove a violation of conflict of interest laws, according to NBC.
A New Orleans neighborhood destroyed by Hurricane Katrina is seen from the air on Sept. 11, 2005.
(DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP)
The outlet said that the report also alleged that Craig used government funds to travel for a job interview with engineering group Shaw Group and also said he was working when he was talking to another firm, the Fluor Corporation, about a job.
Both companies reportedly received contracts around $100 million from FEMA without any bidding process.
Investigators’ report says that Craig, who was part of discussion around who would get the contracts, made an effort to recuse himself after he had already begun interviewing.
The probe went so far as to include a former FEMA colleague of Craig secretly recording their conversation after the dinner that the dinner claimed as a business expense, though no charges came of it.
Craig has repeatedly said that he did nothing wrong.
The White House has not commented publicly on the withdrawal as of Wednesday afternoon.
This is a developing story and will be updated