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 (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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