January 1, 2009
Petition To Save Job Of NASA Chief Started By His Wife
Wife of NASA chief Michael Griffin e-mailed a request to President-elect Barack Obama on Christmas Eve urging him to let her husband keep his job.
Rebecca Griffin sent the e-mail titled "Campaign for Mike" to friends and family in hopes of forming a petition to urge Obama to keep her husband on as NASA Administrator.
"And if this is inappropriate, I'm sorry," Rebecca Griffin wrote.
The petition, spurred by Scott "Doc" Horowitz of Park City, Utah, an ex-astronaut and former NASA associate administrator, said that Griffin "has brought a sense of order and purpose to the U.S. space agency."
In a seemingly related move, the space agency also sent copies of a new NASA book called "Leadership in Space: Selected Speeches of NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, May 2005-October 2008."
David Mould, Griffins press secretary said the move to send copies of the book was nothing out of the ordinary during the time surrounding the end of a presidential term.
"A lot of people seem to like and support Mike and think he's doing a good job," said Mould.
Michael Griffin also voiced his respect for President-Elect Obama in a letter addressed to him.
"I am deeply grateful to you, personally, for your leadership" on the vote to allow NASA to use Russian spaceships," he wrote.
"This kind of public campaigning to keep a job is unusual and usually tends to backfire in new administrations," said David Goldston, a former chief of staff for the House Science Committee and a lecturer on science policy at Harvard University.
Petition-drive organizer Horowitz, who used to be in charge of NASA's return-to-the-moon program that is Griffin's signature project, said Griffin had nothing to do with the petition effort.
"This is other people campaigning for him," Horowitz said. "There's a lot of things people should change, but the NASA administrator isn't one of them."
Horowitz's effort also spurred a "remove Mike Griffin" counter-petition, which has just a few dozen signatures, mostly anonymous and personal. Some are highly critical of NASA's space vehicle design.
Image Caption: NASA Administrator Mike Griffin shares a laugh with reporters during a Media Opportunity at NASA Ames Research Center on May 23, 2005.
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