FEMA media official resigns

Nov. 8, 2007 at 12:38 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- A second Federal Emergency Management Agency media official has lost his job in the dust-up over a staged news conference during California's recent wildfires.

A FEMA official said press secretary Aaron Walker submitted his resignation Wednesday afternoon to his boss, FEMA chief David Paulison, CNN reported. It was not known whether Walker was asked to resign or did so on his own. The resignation is effective in early December.

John "Pat" Philbin left his job as FEMA's director of external affairs two days after the fake news conference to become head of public affairs for National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell. But that job offer was pulled back after the Oct. 23 incident came to light.

The official told the network Walker and Philbin had the "greatest degree of responsibility for the planning and execution" of the hastily called news conference, in which FEMA employees posed as news reporters to ask questions about the efforts to fight the wildfires. Real reporters were allowed to listen in by phone but could not ask questions themselves.

"They had the greatest ability to stop that train from going down the track, and they didn't," said the official.

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