Is this even news anymore given how many times this scenario has played out?
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's pick for the No. 2 post at the Environmental Protection Agency abruptly removed himself from consideration Wednesday, saying the controversy surrounding a foundation he once belonged to would distract from the agency's work.
Jon Cannon, a professor of environmental law at the University of Virginia and the former top EPA lawyer, said he was withdrawing as the nominee for deputy EPA administrator because the nonprofit America's Clean Water Foundation had become the subject of scrutiny. Cannon once served on the now-defunct organization's board of directors.
The EPA's inspector general concluded in 2007 that the foundation mismanaged $25 million in EPA grants that it had received to help identify environmental risks on farms and to assist states and tribes in complying with water pollution laws. The report found that the foundation could not properly account for the money it had been granted.
Cannon's confirmation hearing had been scheduled for Thursday before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the top Republican on the panel, said committee staff questioned Cannon about the inspector general's report at a meeting Monday. But Dempsey said the organization's missteps did not warrant opposing Cannon's nomination.
In a statement, Cannon said that while he was not personally the object of the scrutiny, he did not want to present a distraction to the agency at a time when the nation faces serious energy and environmental challenges.
Cannon has held numerous positions within the EPA during the Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations, eventually rising to general counsel.
Cannon is the latest in a series of Obama appointees to drop out in the midst of controversy.