Entries in Commerce Secretary (7)


Former Commerce Sec. Bryson Will Not Be Charged in Car Accidents

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Former Commerce Secretary John Bryson will not face criminal charges for his string of car accidents last month that ultimately led to his resignation, following health concerns.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office declined to file a case Tuesday, noting that Bryson had suffered a seizure and did not have any traces of illegal drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crashes.

The then-secretary was found unconscious in his car June 9 following two back-to-back car accidents. He was originally cited for a felony hit-and-run.

“Both treating doctors agree that suspect was suffering from confusion following a seizure and crashed as a result,” according to the declination. “Based on doctors’ opinions there is insufficient evidence to show knowing failure to provide personal information for hit and run. Further, based on blood test and medical condition there is insufficient evidence to prove driving under the influence.”

Tests did show small amounts of the sleep-aid Ambien in Bryson’s system, but investigators could not determine whether it was a factor in the collisions.

Two days after the accidents, Bryson announced he was taking medical leave. He stepped down as commerce secretary on June 21.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Commerce Secretary Bryson Resigns After Medical Leave

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Less than two weeks after taking a medical leave of absence following a seizure and a string of bizarre car accidents, Commerce Secretary John Bryson is resigning.

In a letter to his staff this morning, Bryson said he was stepping down to “prevent distractions” from the agency’s mission.

Bryson was found unconscious in his car June 9, following two back-to-back car accidents in Los Angeles. Two days later, he announced he was taking medical leave.

President Obama accepted Bryson’s resignation Wednesday night and will meet with him at the White House this afternoon to thank him for his service.

“I want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to John for his service over the past months, and wish him and his family the very best,” Obama said in a statement.

“As Secretary, John fought tirelessly for our nation’s businesses and workers, helping to bolster our exports and promote American manufacturing and products at home and abroad,” he said. “I am grateful that he brought that invaluable experience and expertise to my administration, and am pleased that he has agreed to continue supporting our efforts to strengthen the economy and create good jobs by serving as a member of my Export Council going forward.”

Bryson was confirmed as Secretary of Commerce last October, having previously served as chairman and chief executive officer of Edison International, and on the boards of the Boeing Company and The Walt Disney Company, the parent company of ABC News.

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank will continue to serve as the Acting Secretary of Commerce.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Probe into Commerce Secretary's Traffic Mishaps Could Last a Month

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Don't expect any quick answers as to what really happened last weekend in the Los Angeles area when police said Commerce Secretary John Bryson was involved in a series of hit-and-run accidents.

The Commerce Department said that Bryson, who's been on the job only since last October, had a seizure and was given medication at a hospital.  Meanwhile, the 68-year-old Cabinet member has taken a medical leave of absence and transferred his duties to the deputy secretary.

Still, police have to do their job and commander Ray Leyva of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said on Tuesday that determining exactly what happened when Bryson allegedly banged his Lexus into a Pontiac twice and a Honda Accord could take up to four weeks.

While the initial police report said that neither drugs nor alcohol was involved, investigators will still need three to four weeks to verify that claim based on lab tests.

The investigation will likely be handled by the police department in San Gabriel, Calif., the scene of the first accident.

On Tuesday, the White House said that Bryson spoke to President Obama personally for the first time since the alleged incidents, but wouldn't disclose the nature of their conversation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Commerce Secretary John Bryson Taking Medical Leave of Absence

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of Commerce John Bryson is taking a medical leave of absence after a bizarre series of car accidents over the weekend in Los Angeles left him unconscious behind the wheel, and he was cited by police for leaving the scene of an accident -- a felony offense.

Bryson has not been charged and he passed a breathalyzer Saturday night.

"I notified President Obama this evening that effective immediately I am taking a medical leave of absence so that I can focus all of my attention on resolving the health issues that arose over the weekend," Bryson wrote in a memo to Deputy Secretary Dr. Rebecca Blank, who will take over for the time being.

A statement from the Commerce Department earlier Monday suggested that Bryson had some sort of seizure.  He was treated overnight Saturday and released on Sunday.

By Monday evening he had stepped down from his post for a medical leave.  It is not clear if the hiatus will be permanent.

"Secretary Bryson informed the White House tonight that he will be taking a medical leave of absence from his position as Commerce Secretary as he undergoes tests and evaluations," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a statement.  "The President's thoughts are with Secretary Bryson and his family during this time.  Secretary Bryson assured the White House that the Commerce Department staff will not miss a beat in their work helping America's businesses compete."

Bryson was allegedly driving his Lexus traveling southbound on San Gabriel Boulevard at 5:05 p.m. Pacific Time when he rear-ended a Buick that had stopped and was waiting for a train to pass, authorities said.

Bryson got out of his car, spoke to the three males in the Buick, "then left the scene, hitting the same car as he left the scene," read a joint statement from the San Gabriel Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.  "The three males followed him in their car while calling San Gabriel Police officers via 911 and asking for assistance."

In yet another bizarre twist to the story, about five minutes later, Bryson allegedly hit a Honda Accord containing a man and woman in the city of Rosemead and "was found alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his vehicle."

The law enforcement statement said that two of the three men in the Buick and one of the occupants of the Honda complained of pain as a result of the collisions.  The men in the Buick were treated by paramedics.  The statement said that the investigation was in its preliminary stages and "there is no indication that alcohol or drugs played a role in the collisions."

video platform video management video solutions video player

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Hopes Bryson Is ‘Doing All Right’ After Seizure and Car Accidents

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Monday that he hopes Commerce Secretary John Bryson is “doing all right” after he suffered a seizure and hit two cars in Los Angeles over the weekend.

“I just found out about this today and my hope is that he’s doing all right,” Obama told NBC News television affiliate KTIV. The president said he has not spoken with Bryson directly.

“We’re still trying to find out, it sounds like it was health related in some way. But we’re going to make sure that obviously he gets the best care,” Obama said.

Bryson is suspected of felony hit and run in connection with the incident that took place on Saturday evening. Bryson allegedly hit two cars three times, and was found unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Commerce Secy. Incident: Conservative SuperPAC Suggests Alcohol Involved

American Crossroads via Twitter(WASHINGTON) -- In a tweet sent Monday morning from the account of the Republican-aligned super PAC, American Crossroads, the group raised the possibility that alcohol was involved in the suspected felony hit and run incident involving U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson over the weekend.

“@AmericanXRoads: How does @CommerceSec have 3 car crashes in 5 minutes and alcohol NOT be involved? ‪#Skills,” the tweet, posted at 8:02 a.m., said.

But the group deleted it less than two hours later — at about the same time the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the secretary suffered a seizure while behind the wheel.

By 10:00 a.m. the group had deleted two other tweets related to the incident and posted this one: “@AmericanXRoads: Earlier Bryson tweet with hashtag #skills attempted levity (before facts known) and failed miserably. We took it down and regret the tweet.”

Bryson hit two cars three times, and was found unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus this weekend in Southern California, but according to initial reports available early Monday, authorities said the incident did not appear to be alcohol-related.

“They have ruled out alcohol and drugs at this time and also information was given that he suffers from a pre-existing medical condition,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Pope told ABC News Radio.

Jennifer Friedman, a spokeswoman for the Commerce Dept., said in a statement that Secretary Bryson “suffered a seizure” while driving in the Pasadena area on Saturday.

“He was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation.  He was released and has returned to Washington,” Friedman said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Founded by Karl Rove, American Crossroads has said it will spend up to $300 million during the 2012 election cycle against President Obama and on Congressional races — much of it on television advertising.

Two other tweets related to the Bryson incident were expunged from group’s twitter feed on Monday. They were apparently meant to be tongue-in-cheek references to the hit-and-run and President Obama’s recent remarks about the economy.

“@AmericanXRoads: @BarackObama response to @CommerceSec news: “Wait, John Bryson is my Commerce Secretary? Who knew. Sure he’s #DoingFine.”

“@AmericanXRoads: Breaking: John Bryson cited for reckless endangerment of the economy and failure to yield to common sense, but he’s #DoingFine #TCOT”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama to Nominate Commerce Secretary Locke as US Ambassador to China

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News has learned that President Obama intends to nominate Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as the next U.S. ambassador to China.

Locke is the first Chinese-American to be Secretary of Commerce. The former two-term governor of Washington State, Locke’s father and maternal grandfather emigrated from China to Seattle.  As a partner in the Seattle office of the international law firm, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Locke co-chaired the firm's China practice.

“The president asked him to take this job because Locke had the experience and relationships necessary to take on this key post,” a senior administration official tells ABC News. “With more than two decades of experience dealing with China, Gary Locke has forged important relationships with China’s top political leadership. There is simply no one better positioned to advocate for American interests there and build on a bilateral relationship critical for the 21st century.”

The official says that “as a Pacific Rim governor and Commerce Secretary he helped lead an historic increase in trade with China. As Commerce Secretary, Locke has delivered on the president’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in the next five years (up 17 percent in 2010), led the push for patent and export control reforms and presided over a Census count that came in 25 percent under budget -- returning more than $2 billion to the Treasury.”

President Obama has had some interesting moments with his outgoing ambassador to China, to say the least.

Former Gov. Jon Huntsman, R-Utah, who lived in China as a young Mormon missionary, was appointed amidst much fanfare about bipartisanship and politics ending at the water’s edge, but he will be leaving that post in April and return to the U.S. to explore a run for president against his current boss.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio