Southers rejects offer to lead TSA

 - February 22, 2010, 7:20 AM

Erroll Southers, the White House choice to head the leaderless Transportation Security Administration (TSA), withdrew his name from consideration on January 20, saying his nomination had been “obstructed by ideology.”

The Obama Administration announced on September 10 its intention to nominate Southers as assistant secretary for the TSA, which would have made him the fifth administrator of the agency since it was created shortly after 9/11.

Southers bowed out of consideration just weeks after revelations surfaced that he had provided misleading information to Congress during his confirmation hearing. That prompted several Republican senators to signal that his nomination would face
an uphill battle.

A former agent with the FBI, Southers was an assistant chief for the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department’s Office of Homeland Security and Intelligence when he was tapped to lead the TSA. He was also serving as the associate director of the center for risk and economic analysis of terrorism events at the University of Southern California, where he previously was an adjunct professor of terrorism, homeland security and public safety.

At the eye of the controversy was an incident in the late 1980s involving a background check of the boyfriend of his ex-wife. Southers told senators that he asked a coworker’s husband, who worked for the San Diego Police Department at the time, to run the check.

In a statement released by the White House after Southers withdrew his name, he blamed congressional critics motivated by “political ideology” for the mounting opposition to his confirmation.

Acting Administrator Gail Rossides, who replaced Kip Hawley when he resigned at the end of the Bush Administration, is currently running the TSA.