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Local Candidate To Head The TSA Pulls Out After 20-Year-Old Dirt Is Dug Up

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Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 12:19 PM
click to enlarge Erroll Southers. - USC
  • USC
  • Erroll Southers.

Erroll Southers, assistant chief of Los Angeles airport police and President Obama's nominee to head the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, has withdrawn his candidacy after 20-year-old dirt about him surfaced and he faced opposition from Republicans in Congress.

The dirt involved his digging into the background of the boyfriend of his ex-wife by using law enforcement databases in the late-1980s. He admitted to twice accessing confidential law enforcement records himself, at a time when he was working as an FBI special agent, and to once asking a San Diego police officer to conduct a check on the boyfriend as well. "The boyfriend had moved in with my ex-wife, from whom I had separated only a short time before, and I was concerned for the safety of her and my infant son, who was also living with them," he wrote in response to questions by members of the U.S. Senate. "The database search revealed an outstanding warrant for his arrest, about which I informed my ex-wife."

That was a deal-breaker for Republican opponents, and Southers announced he was pulling out of contention Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, which represents airport police at LAX and other Los Angeles World Airports, was bummed. It had urged Congress to approve Southers' nomination pronto, saying that the attempted bombing of a jetliner over Detroit Christmas day pointed to the need to fill the top spot at the TSA.

The organization released this statement Wednesday:

"Erroll Southers would have been an outstanding head of Transportation Security Administration. He should have been quickly confirmed by the U.S. Senate after his nomination by President Obama last fall. We understand his decision but are saddened he has chosen to withdraw his name from consideration because of the manner in which the political process was playing out in Washington. The TSA desperately needs permanent leadership at this crucial time in our nation's war on terrorism. We are grateful that his decision will allow him to remain in Los Angeles as assistant chief for homeland security and intelligence to help keep LAX secure."

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