John Bryson resigns as Commerce secretary, citing seizure

WASHINGTON -- Commerce Secretary John Bryson has resigned, saying the seizure that he suffered on June 9 that led to two San Gabriel Valley hit-and-run accidents could be a distraction in the job.

“I have concluded that the seizure I suffered on June 9th could be a distraction from my performance as Secretary and that our country would be better served by a change in leadership of the Department,” Bryson wrote to President Obama in a letter dated Wednesday.

Bryson informed Obama of his decision on Wednesday night, and the president announced Thursday that he had accepted Bryson’s resignation.

“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,” said Obama, who planned to meet with Bryson Thursday afternoon in the Oval Office to personally thank him for his tenure.


“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,” Obama said in a statement. “John has proven himself an effective and distinguished leader throughout his career in both the public and private sectors, from his success in the business world to his work leading on issues in the renewable energy industry.”

Bryson, 68, a former chief executive at Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, was found unconscious on June 9 behind the wheel of his Lexus. He had hit two cars, one of them twice, authorities said. Bryson was hospitalized overnight, and tests showed no drugs or alcohol were involved.

Two days later, the Commerce Department said Bryson had suffered a seizure, and he took a medical leave. He had been Commerce secretary since October.

Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank became acting head of the Cabinet department when Bryson took his leave. Obama indicated that she will continue in the position for the foreseeable future and that he was confident she would “serve the American people well.”


In his short resignation letter, Bryson said he was stepping down because “this is a critical period for our country’s economy” and he did not want his health issues to be a distraction. He said it had been an honor to serve as Commerce secretary.


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