WASHINGTON (AP) — Commerce Secretary John Bryson resigned Thursday less than two weeks after suffering a seizure and multiple car accidents in the Los Angeles area, saying he didn't want his health to be a distraction from his job.
Bryson, a 68-year-old former California utility executive, served as a member of President Barack Obama's economic team and advised the president on energy issues. He made his resignation official in a letter to Obama dated Wednesday, saying it was a "consequence of a recent seizure and a medical leave of absence."
"I have concluded that the seizure I suffered on June 9 could be a distraction from my performance as secretary, and that our country would be better served by a change in leadership," Bryson wrote.
Obama met with Bryson in the Oval Office on Thursday to thank him for his service. The president said in a statement he had accepted the resignation and that Bryson had provided "invaluable experience and expertise" to his administration.
Bryson's resignation followed a series of traffic incidents in Southern California on June 9. Authorities said Bryson was driving alone in a Lexus near Los Angeles when he struck a vehicle that had stopped for a passing train. He spoke briefly with the three occupants, and then hit their car again as he departed.
The secretary then struck a second car in a nearby city, where he was later found unconscious in his car. Commerce officials said Bryson had not suffered a seizure previously and had "limited recall of the event" involved in the crashes.
In a message to Commerce Department employees, Bryson said their efforts to help American businesses "build our economy and create jobs is more important now than ever." Obama is in the midst of an intense re-election race that will largely be determined by the fate of the economy. Bryson said he would keep supporting Obama in a "personal capacity."
Earlier this month, Bryson transferred his functions and duties as secretary to Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank, who is now acting commerce secretary. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama had "a great deal of confidence" in Blank but declined to elaborate on any plans to find a permanent successor.
Bryson was cited for felony hit-and-run, although he has not been charged. Los Angeles County district attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison said the district attorney's office has not been presented any case for review. She said the incident remained under investigation by the original law enforcement agency, the San Gabriel Police Department.
Bryson took a Breathalyzer test that didn't detect any alcohol, authorities said. Investigators were awaiting the results from a blood test to determine whether there were alcohol or drugs in Bryson's system at the time of the collisions. The results likely will come back next week, Lt. Margarito Robles of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.
The commerce secretary post, typically a low-profile Cabinet position, has been problematic for Obama since his first weeks in office. Obama's first pick to run the department, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, withdrew from consideration because of a federal investigation into how his political donors won contracts in the state. Obama then nominated New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, but he also withdrew, saying he realized he had "irresolvable conflicts" with the president's economic policies.
The president finally found success with Gary Locke, the former Washington state governor. Locke served as secretary until 2011, when Obama asked him to move to China to become U.S. ambassador there. Obama then tapped Bryson to fill the post.
Bryson is the former head of Edison International, the holding company that owns Southern California Edison, and has served on boards of major corporations, including the Boeing Co. and the Walt Disney Co.
Associated Press writers John Antczak and Greg Risling in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/7-10/14)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Nite | to the tune of @cnn 😞
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2. Got so much work to do but I just wanna stay in bed and binge watch #Gameofthrones and start the new season of #OnceUponATime. I know I can't be the only one. Right? Ha 💤🦁🍂 #saturday
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3. Mommy's weekend turn up ❤️👶🏾💕🍼 Wouldn't trade it for nothing. #TeamNoSleep lol #HesMyBiggestBlessing ✨
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4. One of them oh shit mont we made it feelings … this shit still be unreal 💯💪🏾 @remyboymonty1738
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5. Tickets Available October 14 @ticketmaster.
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6. People magazine Home edition has raided my house! Get a sneak peek into the bedroom life of the Leakes and see other parts of my home now at PEOPLE.COM
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7. They want to kick you when you down, but kick it when you up
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8. Got my advance copy of #Mafia3 at @gamestop. Get yours via link in the bio #Mafia3 #Ad
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9. This is some of the cast and our diverse team of writers in the writer's room creating funny sh*t for @nbcmarlon what a fun room! Lots of jokes, great stories and having a great time doing what we love... making people laugh and feel something. Look out for our show next year @nbcmarlon we bringing sitcoms back to NBC
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10. #HappySunday☀️Thank you @4everbrandy101 💛💡💛
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11. Happy to be back in Central Falls, RI breaking ground for the One Stop Health Center and hosting a local community event with #Vaseline.
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12. Thank you all in advance 💋💋💋 #Repost @urbansvintage・・・#TarajiPHenson's memoir #AroundTheWayGirl will be available everywhere TODAY October 11th! Will you be purchasing a copy? #UrbansVintage
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13. Moms got my back
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14. @galore dinner party glo ✨ thanks to @styledbygiigii
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15. 🌹#ThisIsWhatTheTruthFeelsLikeTOUR #forevereve
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16. Yes, all those videos I've been posting have led to this: the introduction of skincare to @TYRABeauty! This is the rundown on the new line:Years of research and beauty tips I live by led me to produce the most effective and delightful skincare out there. I'm all about taking really good care of my skin, so I can look like I'm aging in #TyraYears and go filter free on Instagram when I feel like it! Now, it's your turn. ✨My Mama always told me not to wash my face with just my hands. "Tyra, girl, you're just moving the dirt around!" And I've listened. First up is The Clean Machine.... ...a 3-in-1 foaming face wash that cleanses, removes makeup and purified your skin. It has patented technology - a attached Turbo Cleansing Tool - to give you that deep clean that makes your skin feel super fresh. Wanna know more? Yeah, baby. Click that link in my bio.
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17. On set of #beingmaryjane like... ❤️😬💃🏾
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18. #carouselofhope@yvetteshelton100@makeupbylatrice @thestacetheface@marialuciahohan24
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19. I refuse to let a little cold stop me from my daily routines to greatness. #onlythestrongsurvive #warriors
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20. Big things begin with big THINKING... #BusinessEthics #SetLife 🎥
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21. Goodnight - here's a song
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22. Words can't explain the feeling that I have right now.....God is good. look momma I made it. #Harts #Blessed #WhatNow #comedicrockstarshit #4DaysAway
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23. I tried to get a better video with out the nasty bib but she started getting mad at me..lol! Big cuz @the_queen_caitlin trying to show her what to do. #MamasToots #HeirBear👑💜
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24. Gorgeous Serena joined Beyoncé in Formation last night on stage in New Jersey!!!
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25. 😜 @lifeofdesiigner & @rockohill
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