Van Jones Resigns Amid Controversy

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House environmental adviser under fire for inflammatory statements made before he joined the administration resigned after what he called a "vicious smear campaign against me."

Van Jones "understood that he was going to get in the way" of President Barack Obama's agenda, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Sunday.

The resignation was disclosed without advance notice by the White House in a dead-of-the-night e-mail on a holiday weekend. It came as Obama is working to regain his footing in the contentious health care debate.

Jones, who specialized in environmentally friendly "green jobs" with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was linked to efforts suggesting a government role in the Sept. 11 attacks and to derogatory comments about Republicans.

Gibbs said Obama did not endorse Van Jones' comments but thanked him for his service.

"What Van Jones decided was that the agenda of this president was bigger than any one individual," Gibbs said on ABC's "This Week.

Recent news reports cited a derogatory comment Jones made in the past about Republicans, and separately, of Jones' name appearing on a petition connected to the events surrounding the Sept. 11 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," Jones said in his resignation statement. "They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide."

Obama's top political adviser, David Axelrod, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Jones "showed his commitment to the cause of creating green jobs in this country by removing himself as an issue."

Howard Dean, former head of the Democratic National Committee, told "Fox News Sunday" that he thought Jones "was brought down and I think it's too bad. Washington's a tough place that way, and I think it's a loss for the country."

Dean, a former Vermont government and Democratic presidential candidate, added: "All of us campaigning for office have had people throw clipboards in front of our face and ask us to sign. And he learned the hard way you ought not to do that. But I don't think he really thinks the government had anything to do with causing 9/11."

Jones said he has been "inundated with calls from across the political spectrum urging me to stay and fight." But he said he could not in good conscience ask his colleagues to spend time and energy defending or explaining his past.

Jones said in an earlier statement that he did not agree with the petition's stand on the Sept. 11 attacks and that "it certainly does not reflect my views, now or ever."

As for his other comments he made before joining Obama's team, Jones said, "If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize."

Despite his apologies, Republicans demanded Jones quit.

Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana said in a statement, "His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate." Missouri Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond said Congress should investigate Jones's fitness for the job.

Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck repeatedly denounced Jones after a group the adviser co-founded,, led an advertising boycott against Beck's show to protest his claim that Obama is a racist.

The president of Beck's media organization, Christopher J. Balfe, said the commentator had begun focusing on Jones' "radical beliefs" on July 16, before the group started taking on Beck.

But James Rucker, the organization's executive director, has said Jones had nothing to do with now and didn't even know about the campaign before it started.

Jones, well-known in the environmental movement, was a civil-rights activist in California before shifting his attention to environmental and energy issues. He is known for laying out a broad vision of a green economy. Conservatives have harshly criticized him for having left-wing political views.

Nancy Sutley, who heads the White House environmental council, said Jones "had been a strong voice for creating jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources.'

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  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Sep 8, 2009 at 04:08 PM
    Gosh Vans white ex, what was it like to go out with a communist that wants to remove you freedom and rights? A man that calls repubs,,,,well you know what he called them. Chavaz is a nice dictator as well was Sadaam. Sadaam just killed too many of his own people for pleasure. Ok, so you dated a racist who never had intentions to love you or marry you, he just used you and moved on. This is Van Jones, the real guy, too bad you didn't figure that out sooner. By the way, I think he is a racist.
  • by Van aint prejudice on Sep 8, 2009 at 12:36 PM
    yall got van all wrong (with the racial remarks). i have known van for a while & he dated lots of white women. so how can he be prejudice or racists? if he was he would not have
  • by Van's white ex on Sep 8, 2009 at 12:34 PM
    Van is a good person. he just speaks his mind on certain things. we all do at times. i am a white girl and i dated him in school and i know he is a nice person. alot of these comments are racist.
  • by Neo Location: Reality on Sep 7, 2009 at 09:35 PM
    Appointing this communist idiot is a sign of obuma's lack of judgement, or his true colors. Either way he is unfit to be president of a free country.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Sep 7, 2009 at 12:14 PM
    As usual, Nathan hit the koolaide a little too hard. Devil dog, don't forget the shadow party. The party that owns Nathan, Barlow and Derek. Yep, they cannot think for themselves, they have to do what they are told. Sorry gents, try being good democrat leaders and research facts for a change, you are really looking like fools to those of us who do. See Ya.
  • by Vance Location: Columbia on Sep 7, 2009 at 11:43 AM
    Why does Obonga surround himself with so many left wing nut balls.Wright the racist,Ayers Bomber of the Pentagon in the 70's,the racist Harverd so called professor,and no this WACKED OUT IDIOT.The people you hang around are a reflection of yourself.So you know Obonga has something in common with them.
  • by chris Location: greenville on Sep 7, 2009 at 07:46 AM
    When, Where, and Why did we start using "czar" as a term to describe a leadership position in American government. That is just stupid to use that word.
  • by Devil Dog Location: Greenville on Sep 7, 2009 at 06:34 AM
    This is all part of OBAMA's "Transformation of America". OBAMA is a devout MARXIST, and is part of the secular progressive movement. Look who he has surrounded himself with,and the people he admires. For those who purport to be a christian, you need to see what is happening in Europe and the radical ISLAMIC movement that has infiltrated their society. You can't be a "christian" and believe in MARXIST philosophies. Do some research on his CZARS, George Soros, and the left wing kooks in Congress. Wake up America! Check out other resources instead of the propaganda spewed by the LIBERAL mainstream media.
  • by Tom Location: PNTP on Sep 7, 2009 at 05:59 AM
    I guest that our great leader will have to bring in al gore to take vans place? We really need a enviro expert.
  • by Fran Location: NC on Sep 7, 2009 at 05:14 AM
    He was hand picked by Obama, and Obama has said if you want to know who he is, look at who he associates himself with. Well.........
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