San Francisco native and environmental advocate Anthony “Van” Jones resigned his post as White House special advisor on green jobs amid a firestorm of Republican criticism.
Jones resigned Sept. 5 citing a “vicious smear campaign” against him and stating that he came to Washington D.C. to “fight for others, not myself.”
President Barack Obama appointed Jones as adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality in March. In that role Jones helped organize government agencies to focus on delivering millions of green jobs to the U.S. economy
Jones is a well known civil rights activist. He moved to San Francisco in 1993. He founded Bay Area PoliceWatch, a hotline for victims claiming police abuse. In Oakland, he founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit which seeks to break the cycle of urban violence and promote urban centers for justice, opportunity and peace.
The Ella Baker Center sent out a public statement about their co-founder’s decision. “It’s a dark day when attacks based in half-truths, full lies, and old news deny the nation its most talented advocate in the fight against climate change and for rebuilding our economy,” the statement read.
The foundation, under the guidance of Executive Director Jakada Imani, plans to continue Van Jones’ ideas for green jobs, to provide for those impoverished and address the climate crisis.
Jones also released his first book in 2008, The Green Collar Economy, that addresses his plan to solving national issues concerning the economy and environment.
Republicans, including representative Mike Pence (R-Indiana), requested Jones’ resignation citing “his extremist views and coarse rhetoric,” according to CNN.
The resignation comes after several controversies facing Jones, dubbed a “green-jobs czar” for the administration. These included his signing of a petition requesting an investigation into whether government officials deliberately allowed the Sept. 11 attacks to happen.
Although Jones recanted his support, he was later under fire for vulgar comments made toward Republicans in a Youtube video.
Jones was also quoted in the East Bay Express about his personal thoughts about the acquittal in the police beating of Rodney King in 1992 saying, “By August, I was a Communist.”
Strategists argue that Jones’ resignation is an attempt by Republicans against Obama to create “a failed presidency,” said John Tripp on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Obama has yet to comment on the Jones’ resignation.