Five FAA Officials Resign in Fallout over Capitol Hill Riot

 - January 8, 2021, 11:37 AM

Five senior FAA officials who served under President Trump have resigned, condemning the events that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Effective Monday, leaving the agency are Arjun Garg, chief counsel and acting deputy FAA Administrator; Brianna Manzelli, assistant administrator for communications; Kirk Shaffer, assistant administrator for airports; Bailey Edwards, assistant administrator for policy, international affairs and environment; and Andrew Giacini, acting administrator for legislative affairs.

Their resignations come as Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao also resigned effective Monday—nine days before she would have otherwise been expected to leave the department—citing “a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed.”

FAA chief-of-staff Angela Stubblefield on Thursday announced the resignations of the non-career leaders, saying, “Our colleagues’ decisions, given the gravity of yesterday’s events, are understandable. Like all of us, they are outraged by the brazen and violent attack on one of the sacred institutions of American democracy.”

Alongside the announcement, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson released a video to employees saying, “I am speaking with you today with a very heavy heart. The violence in the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an attack on our sacred democracy and it was reprehensible and unpardonable. I condemn this violence…This breach has really shaken us all to the core.”

Garg was named the FAA’s acting deputy administrator in November after Dan Elwell departed the agency. He had joined the FAA in 2019 as chief counsel after holding the same role with the Federal Transit Administration. Manzelli came on board in late 2019 after serving as communications director for the Senate Commerce Committee.

Shaffer is well known in the airport community for his decades of work as an airport executive, regulator, and advocate. He had returned to the agency in late 2018 after previously holding the role between 2007 and 2009.

Edwards, who joined the FAA in 2018, also came from the Senate Commerce Committee, serving as policy director for aviation, space, science, and competitiveness; and, Giacini had joined the FAA in 2019 in government and external outreach roles after serving as a staff member in the U.S. House.