TSA nominee withdraws

January 20, 2010

The Obama administration’s nominee for the top spot at the Transportation Security Administration withdrew his name from consideration Jan. 20 after his nomination stalled in the Senate.

Erroll G. Southers, the assistant chief for the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department’s office of homeland security and intelligence, faced strong opposition to his nomination to oversee the TSA as assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. The head of the TSA determines the agency’s approach to security issues, including general aviation security; the position remains unfilled.

Opponents to Southers’ nomination cited concerns about his views on collective bargaining rights, and about an incident two decades ago when he inappropriately used his position at the FBI to run a background check on the boyfriend of his estranged wife. In a statement released by the White House, Southers said his nomination had become a political lightning rod and was “obstructed by political ideology.” The White House must now nominate a new head for the TSA, which continues under the temporary leadership of acting administrator Gale Rossides.

“AOPA continues to support commonsense enhancements to general aviation security that have real and positive effects on national security while imposing the least possible burden on general aviation pilots,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “The association has a strong working relationship with the Transportation Security Administration at the operational level, and looks forward to developing a similar relationship with the new administrator once that person is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.”