FEMA Director Michael Brown

The Federal Emergency Management Agency official in charge of the New Orleans rescue was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows.

And before joining FEMA as a deputy director in 2001, Mike Brown, the Republican Party activist, had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position. But the Oklahoman got the job through an old college friend who at the time was heading up FEMA.

“I look at FEMA and I shake my head,” a furious Gov. Mitt Romney told the Boston Herald, calling the response “an embarrassment.”

Even President Bush, after touring the devastated area, said he was “not satisfied” with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. Members of Congress predicted there would be hearings on Capitol Hill over the mishandled operation.

Brown – formerly an estates and family lawyer – this week has made several public admissions, including interviews where he suggested FEMA was unaware of the misery and desperation of refugees stranded at the New Orleans convention center.

Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, Brown spent 11 years as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders’ and horse-show organization based in Colorado.

“We do disciplinary actions, certification of (show trial) judges. We hold classes to train people to become judges and stewards. And we keep records,” explained a spokeswoman for the IAHA commissioner’s office. “This was his full-time job … for 11 years,” she added.

Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.

“He was asked to resign,” Bill Pennington, president of the IAHA at the time.

Soon after, Brown was invited to join the administration by his old Oklahoma college roommate Joseph Allbaugh, the previous head of FEMA until he quit in 2003 to work for the president’s re-election campaign.

The White House last night defended Brown’s appointment. A spokesman noted Brown served as FEMA deputy director and general counsel before taking the top job, and that he has now overseen the response to “more than 164 declared disasters and emergencies,” including last year’s record-setting hurricane season.

As WorldNetDaily reported, New Orleans’ local newspaper, the Times-Picayune, is blasting President Bush for his handling of response to Hurricane Katrina, and is calling for heads to roll within his administration.

“Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially,” the paper stated in an open letter to Bush in its Sunday edition.

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Those wishing to contribute to hurricane relief efforts can donate to the Salvation Army online or by calling 1-800-725-2769. Red Cross donations can be made
online or by calling 1-800-435-7669.

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