The federal official in charge of the bungled New Orleans rescue was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows.
And before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a deputy director in 2001, GOP activist Mike Brown had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position.
The Oklahoman got the job through an old college friend who at the time was heading up FEMA.
The agency, run by Brown since 2003, is now at the center of a growing fury over the handling of the New Orleans disaster.
“I look at FEMA and I shake my head,” said a furious Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday, calling the response “an embarrassment.”
Bush, after touring the Big Easy, said he was “not satisfied” with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation.
And U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch predicted there would be hearings on Capitol Hill over the mishandled operation.
Brown – formerly an estates and family lawyer – this week has has made several shocking public admissions, including interviews where he suggested FEMA was unaware of the misery and desperation of refugees stranded at the New Orleans convention center.
Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, Brown spent 11 years as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders’ and horse-show organization based in Colorado.
“We do disciplinary actions, certification of (show trial) judges. We hold classes to train people to become judges and stewards. And we keep records,” explained a spokeswoman for the IAHA commissioner’s office. “This was his full-time job . . . for 11 years,” she added.
Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.
“He was asked to resign,” Bill Pennington, president of the IAHA at the time, confirmed last night.
Soon after, Brown was invited to join the administration by his old Oklahoma college roommate Joseph Allbaugh, the previous head of FEMA until he quit in 2003 to work for the president’s re-election campaign.
The White House last night defended Brown’s appointment. A spokesman noted Brown served as FEMA deputy director and general counsel before taking the top job, and that he has now overseen the response to “more than 164 declared disasters and emergencies,” including last year’s record-setting hurricane season. © Copyright by the Boston Herald and Herald Media