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    Update: Erroll Southers, Obama’s choice to head TSA, withdraws nomination

    Erroll Southers, the administration’s nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration, has decided not to continue to seek the job. “It is clear that my nomination has become a lightning rod for those who have chosen to push a political agenda at the risk of the safety and security of the American people,” Southers said in a statement. “This partisan climate is unacceptable and I refuse to allow myself to remain part of their dialogue. The TSA has important work to be done and I regret I will not be part of their success.”

    Southers had been embroiled in controversy over the fact that he had been censured for misusing government database information for personal reasons in 1988. Southers originally said in November that he “asked a co-worker’s husband who worked for the San Diego Police Department to run a background check on his ex-wife’s boyfriend,” and that this was an isolated incident. Then, the Washington Post reported that Southers had subsequently wrote to key senators on the Senate Homeland Security Committee stating, “his first account was incorrect. After reviewing documents, he wrote, he recalled that he had twice conducted the database searches himself, downloaded confidential law enforcement records about his wife’s boyfriend and passed information on to the police department employee.” Then, seven Republican senators wrote (pdf) to the White House and “demanded that the White House provide information about why Southers initially gave Congress an incorrect account about the searches two decades ago, incidents that led to his censure by the FBI.”

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