PoliticoRailroad agency's acting chief resigns amid questions about his employment
A top official charged with overseeing the safety of U.S. railroads has resigned "effective immediately," the Department of Transportation said Saturday after POLITICO raised questions about whether he had been simultaneously working as a public relations consultant for a sheriff's department in Mississippi.
Heath Hall became the Federal Railroad Administration's acting administrator in June but subsequently appeared on at least two occasions in Mississippi media reports as a spokesman for the Madison County sheriff, in a community where Hall has long run a public relations and political consulting firm. The firm continued to receive payments from the county for its services from July to December, despite his pledge in a federal ethics form that it would remain "dormant" while he worked at DOT.
A former FRA employee also told POLITICO this week that she had fielded at least three requests from a Mississippi TV journalist seeking to speak with Hall last summer a period when Hall was in charge of an agency that oversees a multibillion-dollar freight rail industry and the safety of millions of train passengers.
We were unaware of the information that is being reported but those allegations, if they are true, are troubling," DOT spokeswoman Marianne McInerney said in a statement Saturday. She added, "Heath Hall has resigned his position at the Department effective immediately.
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