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Political Cronyism led to Brown's Position in FEMA

by Kevin Caruso

September 28, 2008

The most qualified people rarely get political appointments, but the most loyal frequently do, even if they are incompetent.

Take Michael Brown, for example, who became the director of FEMA even though he had no experience with emergency management. He did, however, have extensive experience with horses; he was the judges and stewards commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association for 13 years.

So how did he get the top job at FEMA?

Answer: political cronyism.

The FEMA cronyism began when George Bush appointed Joe Allbaugh, who was Bush’s campaign director, as director of FEMA shortly after the election. And about the same time, Michael Brown joined FEMA as General Counsel.

Allbaugh, who was good friends with Brown, appointed Brown to acting deputy director in September 2001. Bush later formally nominated him as deputy director, and he was soon confirmed by the Senate.

When Allbaugh left FEMA in 2003, Bush nominated Brown for the directorship.

Brown was sworn in as director in April 2003.

So, because of political cronyism, the United States now had an unqualified, incompetent individual leading the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

And that unqualified, incompetent individual – Michael Brown – is in large part responsible for the deplorable response to Hurricane Katrina.


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