Top official at railroad safety agency resigns after ethics questions raised

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(CNN)A key official at the agency responsible for overseeing the nation's railroad safety has resigned after "troubling" allegations that he was still working as a public relations consultant in Mississippi.

Heath Hall, who was appointed deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration last June and later named the acting administrator, "has resigned his position at the Department effective immediately," a Department of Transportation spokeswoman told CNN Saturday.
"DOT was unaware of the information that is being reported regarding outside work Heath Hall took on during his time at FRA, but those allegations, if true, are troubling," the DOT spokeswoman told CNN.
Politico first reported Heath's resignation.
    While serving at the Federal Railroad Administration, Hall was also quoted in at least one Mississippi news article as a spokesman for the Madison County sheriff, which was a client of the public relations and consulting agency he owned in Mississippi.
    Hall's firm, Strategic Marketing Group, continued to receive payments from July to December of last year, according to local records, despite his statement on an ethics form that his business would "remain dormant during Federal service."
    Hall did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment Saturday.
    Hall was not the acting administrator when he resigned, as he had been on a leave of absence since January.
    Hall stepped into the role of acting administrator while President Donald Trump's nominee, Ron Batory, awaited Senate confirmation. Batory's nomination has been stalled since July, when he was tapped by Trump to lead the agency.
    The man in charge for now is acting deputy administrator Juan Reyes, who is also the agency's chief counsel. The FRA has been without a permanent director since Trump took office.