U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson resign his position Thursday, two weeks after a car accident where he hit two vehicles after an apparent seiziure. He took medical leave June 11.
The former Commerce Secretary was appointed Secretary of Commerce October 21, 2011, despite dissention from James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Inhofe criticized the Natural Resources Defense Council, which Bryson co-founded, saying it “seeks to cut off access to our natural resources and increase drastically the price of electricity and gasoline across America.”
However, an article in the New York Times described Bryson’s appointment as one which “drew plaudits from both business and environmental groups.”
Bryson focus on job creation centered on three areas of support: advanced manufacturing, increased exports and bringing more companies into the U.S. He summarized his manufacturing mandate in a speech to the Brookings Institution in January: “Build it here and sell it everywhere. If we do that, we can retain and even enhance our U.S. economic preeminence.”
Bryson was co-chair of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy and led the National Export Initiative which sought to double U.S. exports. He has also done work with SelectUSA, a national investment advocacy program and has worked on U.S. patent reforms.
Prior to his appointment, Bryson served as chairman of the Edison International.
In a letter to the White House, Bryson cited the recent seizure as the reason for stepping down. "I have concluded that the seizure I suffered on June 9th could be a distraction from my performance as Secretary and that our country would be better served by a change of leadership of the Department," he said in a letter to Obama.
Bryson had faced scrutiny for the series of minor accidents that resulted in a hit-and-run citation. On June 9, he crashed into two vehicles and was later found unconscious in his car. Bryson underwent treatment for a seizure and then took a leave of absence.
Rebecca Blank, Bryson’s deputy, assumed Bryson’s duties and will continue to serve as acting commerce secretary.