Hutchinson to quit Homeland Security post

/ Source: The Associated Press

Asa Hutchinson told a newspaper he plans to resign his post with the Homeland Security Department on Monday after he was passed over twice by the Bush administration to be secretary of the department.

Hutchinson, a former Arkansas congressman and former federal drug czar, is the undersecretary for border and transportation security issues. He said his resignation would be effective March 1 to allow a more seamless transition when secretary-designate Michael Chertoff takes over the department from Tom Ridge.

“It was just a good time to change for me personally and for the department,” Hutchinson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

President Bush announced on Jan. 12 that Chertoff, a federal appeals court judge, was his second nominee to be secretary of the agency. The president’s first choice, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, withdrew citing immigration problems with a former nanny.

Hutchinson, 54, has said that he was disappointed that he wasn’t selected to be secretary but is excited about other options, including a possible run for Arkansas governor in 2006. But Hutchinson didn’t give any definite political plans for the future.

“We’ll wait and see,” Hutchinson said. “I’m ruling nothing out. I’m taking the decision-making process a step at a time.”

Hutchinson served three terms in Congress, representing the state’s 3rd Congressional District. He served as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration and then in the Department of Homeland Security.