Commerce Secretary Bryson to Take a Medical Leave of Absence

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Secretary of Commerce of John Bryson announced late last night that he will temporarily step down from his job to look into the medical issues that may have contributed to his bizarre traffic trouble over the weekend. Bryson was involved in two separate traffic accidents just minutes apart on Saturday, and was found unconscious in his car after crashing the second time. According the the Commerce Department, Bryson had a seizure, though it still hasn't been clarified as to whether the seizure caused the incident or was the result of it. Police reportedly cited Bryson for a felony hit-and-run while he was still in the hospital.

Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank will become the acting secretary for the second time in her career. She was acting secretary last summer during the period after Gary Locke left to become Chinese ambassador and before Bryson was approved by the Senate. Even if Bryson were to quit completely or be fired, it's unlikely that President Obama — who doesn't need yet another distraction from his re-election campaign — would get another secretary approved before the November election.

Here's the full statement from the Commerce Department:

Tonight, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson notified President Obama that he would be taking a medical leave of absence and immediately transferring his functions and duties as Secretary to Deputy Secretary Dr. Rebecca Blank. Effective immediately, Dr. Blank will become Acting Secretary of Commerce. Below is a copy of the memo to Deputy Secretary Blank.

June 11, 2012


FROM: Secretary John Bryson

SUBJECT: Transfer of Duties During Medical Leave of Absence

I notified President Obama this evening that effective immediately I am taking a medical leave of absence so that I can focus all of my attention on resolving the health issues that arose over the weekend.  During the period of my illness, I will not perform the functions and duties of my office.  Therefore, by operation of law, as my first assistant you will act in my stead for the duration of my absence. 


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