Obama environment adviser resigns


White House environmental adviser Van Jones has resigned today after what he called a “vicious smear campaign” following controversy over inflammatory statements.

The resignation, announced early today, came as President Barack Obama is working to regain his footing in the contentious health care debate.

Mr Jones, who specialised in environmentally friendly “green jobs” with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was linked to efforts suggesting a government role in the September 11th, 2001, attacks and to derogatory comments about Republicans.

Mr Jones issued an apology on Thursday for his past statements. The matter surfaced after news reports of a derogatory comment Mr Jones made in the past about Republicans, and separately, of Mr Jones’s name appearing on a petition connected to the events surrounding the 2001 attacks.

That 2004 petition had asked for congressional hearings and other investigations into whether high-level government officials had allowed the attacks to occur.

“On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me,” Mr Jones said in his resignation statement. “They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”

Mr Jones said in an earlier statement that he did not agree with the petition’s stand on the September 11th attacks and that “it certainly does not reflect my views, now or ever”.

As for his other comments he made before joining Mr Obama’s team, Mr Jones said, “If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologise.”

Despite his apologies, Republicans demanded Mr Jones quit.

Mr Obama did not endorse Mr Jones’s comments, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.