Former Oklahoma congressman Brad Carson, who drew heavy criticism from Republican senators last month, has asked President Barack Obama to withdraw his nomination for a top Pentagon job.
Carson, 49, is planning to leave the Defense Department next month.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter praised Carson’s work on a number of efforts, including one to modernize civilian and military personnel systems.
The Senate Armed Services Committee notified its members that Carson sought the withdrawal, a Senate aide said Monday evening.
Carson, who has been in key Defense Department posts since late 2011, was nominated last year to be undersecretary for personnel and readiness, an area of broad responsibilities.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stalled Carson’s nomination — and many others chosen for Pentagon jobs — for several months because of a dispute with the president.
Then McCain and other Republican senators, including Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, leveled criticism and even anonymous complaints against Carson, who served an eastern Oklahoma congressional district from 2001-05.
At a public hearing Feb. 25, Inhofe said he had received “whistle-blower things” that suggested Carson had fostered a “hostile work environment” in the personnel and readiness office, where he had been working since being nominated.
The term “hostile work environment” is almost always associated with workplace harassment, typically sexual harassment. Inhofe did not list any specific complaints and acknowledged that they might not be true.
Carson seemed stunned by Inhofe’s charges and told him, “I would strenuously object to this characterization. I have never heard that allegation. And people have many means to make those allegations at the Department of Defense.”
Carson agreed to seek an internal review of his office, and a Pentagon spokesman told The Oklahoman last week that Carson had taken the first steps toward having that review conducted.
At the same February hearing, McCain accused Carson of performing the duties of the job for which he’d been nominated, even though he hadn’t been confirmed. McCain said that violated federal law. McCain and another GOP senator also charged that Carson hadn’t consulted with them on a project about future military forces.
McCain and Inhofe have never hidden their disdain for Obama’s defense policies, though they supported Carson’s nomination for two key U.S. Army jobs.
Carson said Monday, “I’m very grateful to the men and women of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.