Obama to ask agency official to step down amid congressional pressure

Washington CNN —  

The White House is expected to ask the embattled chairman of the Chemical Safety Board to step down Wednesday, congressional sources tell CNN.

Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso has been accused by members of Congress of malfeasance, hostility towards his staff and retaliation against whistleblowers. And an inspector general report found he used personal email to conduct government business, which contradicted his sworn congressional testimony.

The use of personal email has come under scrutiny since revelations that Hillary Clinton used her personal email to conduct official business while she was secretary of state.

READ: Hillary Clinton seeks ‘new beginning’ with the press

The White House’s move comes just weeks after Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill called on President Barack Obama to remove Moure-Eraso.

In a March 18 letter to the President, Republican and Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee asked Obama to remove the chairman and his two top lieutenants at the agency, which is tasked with investigating industrial chemical accidents.

The lawmakers wrote that an independent inspector general found that Moure-Eraso “knowingly violated the Federal Records Act by using private emails to conduct official [chemical safety board] business,” contradicting his sworn testimony in front of the committee.

The chairman of the Senate Environment Committee wrote Obama on March 12 requesting the President ask for Moure-Eraso’s resignation.

In the letter, Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe cited a congressional investigation that found leadership under the chairman engaged in a “pattern of hostility toward career staff and whistleblowers.”

“He has violated his oath of office. He has violated the law. The [Chemical Safety Board] can no longer continue to operate credibly under this leadership, and it is therefore our recommendation that you ask for Chairman Moure-Eraso’s immediate resignation,” Inhofe wrote.

The top Republican and Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a joint statement applauding the expected resignation.

“The Chemical Safety Board is in desperate need of new leadership and we are pleased that the President has recognized the importance of making key changes within the Chemical Safety Board,” the statement from committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings said.”Dr. Moure-Eraso’s mismanagement of the [board], abuse of power, employee retaliation and lack of honesty in his communications with Congress are among the many reasons why his resignation is the right next step for this federal agency.”

The White House and a spokesman for the chemical safety board did not have an immediate comment.