- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
Sherrod nixes return to USDA
Hastily ousted official might weigh consulting role
Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department employee ousted during a racial firestorm that embarrassed the Obama administration, rejected an offer to return to the department on Tuesday. But in a cordial news conference with the man who asked her to leave — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack — she said she may do consulting work for him on racial issues.
USDA officials hastily forced Mrs. Sherrod to leave her job as Georgia’s director of rural development in July after abbreviated comments she made in an address in March and posted on the Internet were misconstrued as racist.
She has since received numerous apologies from the administration, including from President Obama himself, and Mr. Vilsack personally asked her to return. But she said at the news conference with a clearly disappointed Mr. Vilsack that she did not think she could say yes to a job “at this point, with all that has happened.”
Mr. Vilsack had asked her to become the deputy director of the Office of Advocacy and Outreach, a new position designed to bolster the department’s historically fraught record on civil rights. He had also given her a chance to return to her former job. Both of them said Tuesday that Mrs. Sherrod may return to the department as a consultant once an ongoing review of the department’s efforts on race issues is completed.
“I think I can be helpful to him and the department if I just take a little break and look at how I can be more helpful in the future,” she said.
“I did my best, I think it’s fair to say,” he said. “There’s no one better suited in the country to help us than Shirley.”
He said a consulting job may work better for Mrs. Sherrod, who was concerned about assuming administrative duties like budgeting. She said she was reluctant to be responsible for the weighty duties of the position she was offered.
“A new process is in place, and I hope it works,” she said. “I don’t want to be the one to test it.”
Mrs. Sherrod was forced out after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted an excerpted version of her remarks in March in which said she was initially reluctant to help a white farmer save his farm more than two decades ago, long before she worked for USDA. Mr. Vilsack and others, including the NAACP, condemned the remarks before grasping the full context of her speech, which was meant as a lesson in racial healing.
The NAACP also apologized for its reaction.
As he had in the past, Mr. Vilsack said he took complete responsibility for Mrs. Sherrod’s ouster. Though the department had conversations with the White House at the time, and Mrs. Sherrod said she was told it was the White House who wanted her gone, Mr. Vilsack has said the decision was his.
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
Crystal Wright is a black conservative woman living in Washington, D.C.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow