WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama’s adviser Van Jones has resigned amid controversy over past inflammatory statements, the White House said early Sunday.
Van Jones, an administration official specializing in environmentally friendly “green jobs” with the White House Council on Environmental Quality was linked to efforts suggesting a government role in the 2001 terror attacks and to derogatory comments about Republicans.
The resignation comes as Obama is working to regain his footing in the contentious health care debate.
Jones issued an apology on Thursday for his past statements. When asked the next day whether Obama still had confidence in him, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said only that Jones “continues to work in the administration.”
The matter surfaced after news reports of a derogatory comment Jones made in the past about Republicans, and separately, of Jones’ name appearing on a petition connected to the events surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. That 2004 petition had asked for congressional hearings and other investigations into whether high-level government officers had allowed the attacks to occur.
“On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me,” Jones said in his resignation statement. “They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”
One administration radical down, many more to go.