Under Bush, FEMA was Led by Political Allies who were Unqualified to Handle Disaster Response

“Five Of Eight Top Federal Emergency Management Agency Officials” Had “Virtually No Experience In Handling Disasters.” According to the Washington Post, “Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters and now lead an agency whose ranks of seasoned crisis managers have thinned dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. FEMA’s top three leaders — Director Michael D. Brown, Chief of Staff Patrick J. Rhode and Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks D. Altshuler — arrived with ties to President Bush’s 2000 campaign or to the White House advance operation, according to the agency. Two other senior operational jobs are filled by a former Republican lieutenant governor of Nebraska and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official who was once a political operative.” [Washington Post, 9/9/05]

FEMA Director Michael Brown’s “Only Previous Stint In Emergency Management” Was In A Low-Level Position Described As “Like An Intern.” According to Time, “Before joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management, according to his bio posted on FEMA’s website, was ‘serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight.’ The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 ‘overseeing the emergency services division.’ In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown was an ‘assistant to the city manager’ from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. ‘The assistant is more like an intern,’ she told TIME. ‘Department heads did not report to him.’ Brown did do a good job at his humble position, however, according to his boss. ‘Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University,’ recalls former city manager Bill Dashner.” [Time, 9/8/05]

When He Joined FEMA As A Deputy Director, “Brown Had No Significant Experience That Would Have Qualified Him For The Position.” According to the Boston Herald, “And before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a deputy director in 2001, GOP activist Mike Brown had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position. The Oklahoman got the job through an old college friend who at the time was heading up FEMA.” [Boston Globe, 9/3/05]

Before Joining FEMA, Brown Was “Supervising Judges At Arabian Horse Shows.” According to NBC News, “Michael Brown’s biggest job before landing at FEMA was supervising judges at Arabian horse shows. The embattled FEMA director does not mention in his official online biography that he was commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association for nine years. Association officials tell NBC News that Brown resigned under pressure from that job, before joining FEMA.” [NBC News, 9/13/05]

Brown’s Acting Deputy Director Was A Former Bush Assistant With A Background In TV Reporting And Public Relations. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Brown is not the only official who came to the agency with scant disaster management background. His acting deputy director, Patrick James Rhode, began his professional career as an ‘anchor/reporter with network-affiliated television stations in Alabama and Arkansas,’ according to his resume on FEMA’s website. Rhode later did public relations work for several state agencies in Texas before becoming deputy director of national advance operations for Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. Before moving to FEMA in 2003, Rhode served as a special assistant to the president and White House liaison with the Commerce Department. He donated $2,000 to Bush’s 2004 campaign.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/9/05]

Director Of FEMA’s Recovery Division Had Previously Worked On “Legislative, Political, And Media Initiatives” At The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Daniel Craig, director of FEMA’s Recovery Division since October 2003,’ is responsible for planning and executing the federal government’s recovery efforts following major disasters,’ according to the FEMA website. Before coming to FEMA — he became a regional director based in Boston in 2001 — he worked for the Eastern Regional Office of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he ‘was responsible for Chamber-related legislative, political, and media initiatives in New England and the Atlantic coast,’ the website says. Craig previously worked as a lobbyist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Assn., and before that as a campaign advisor, political fundraiser and research analyst.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/9/05]

“FEMA’s Acting Deputy Chief Of Staff…Was An Advance Man For Bush” And His Predecessor Was A “Media Strategist” On The Bush Campaign. According to the Los Angeles Times, “FEMA’s acting deputy chief of staff, Brooks Altshuler, also hails from Oklahoma. And like Rhode, Altshuler was an advance man for Bush. Scott R. Morris, who held Altshuler’s job until May and now is a FEMA official in Florida, had been a GOP activist as far back as the 1996 presidential campaign of former Sen. Bob Dole, when he handled grass-roots activities and media strategies. He later served as ‘a media strategist for the George W. Bush for President primary campaign and the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign,’ according to his resume. Morris donated $2,250 to Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/9/05]