Brigham McCown

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Brigham A. McCown is the Acting Administrator and Deputy Administrator for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Responsible for Pipeline Security
On July 1, 2005, DOT Director Norman Y. Mineta announced that McCown, "who started June 27, will be charged with helping to lead an agency responsible for the safe and secure movement of more than 800,000 daily shipments of hazardous materials and the 64 percent of the nation's energy transported by pipelines."

"GOP Lawyer"
During the period January to July 2001, McCown was variously described as a "GOP attorney", a "West Palm Beach lawyer who honed his election-law skills last year working in Bush's historic election dispute with Al Gore"; a "lawyer who represented the Republican Party in Palm Beach", a "Bush lawyer", and "legal counsel" who "worked for the Bush campaign's bid to count overseas military ballots."

And, as described below, McCown was both against and for counting hanging chads during the Florida 2000 vote recount -- he was against them when they might have counted for Al Gore but was for them when they were being counted for Republicans.

Make that a "Texas energy lawyer"
In the August 11, 2005, Inline Inspection Public Meeting in Houston, Texas, Stacey Gerard, PHMSA Acting Assistant Administrator Chief Safety Officer, introduced McCown as "a cross between an energy lawyer and a Navy pilot," later emphasizing that McCown was "a Texas energy lawyer."


Expertise

"Legal Skills"

On July 23, 2003, McCown was appointed by DOT Secretary Mineta as chief counsel for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Since 2001, McCown had been a member of Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., a Dallas-based law firm where he specialized in litigation and government relations.

McCown "was formerly with Winstead's government relations practice and Winstead Consulting Group," Margaret Allen wrote in the Dallas Business Journal, August 11, 2003. "As part of Winstead's government and political consulting groups, McCown had represented international, national and regional transportation, energy and manufacturing clients interested in governmental affairs. He provided strategic policy planning, political counseling and direct client representation."

McCown served as "special legal counsel to the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign during the Florida recount process. Between 1998 and 2001 he was an associate attorney with the firm Peterson & Bernard in West Palm Beach, FL, where he worked in litigation." [1]

Transportation Safety

"The head of the office at DOT which has responsiblity for pipeline and hazardous material safety is Brigham McCown. Like FEMA, or any agency charged with safety and emergencies, one would expect that Mr. McCown would be an expert in the transportation safety. You would be wrong. Like Michael Brown and Stewart Simonson, McCown is a relatively inexperienced attorney (he graduated from the University of Northern Kentucky law school in 1997) with no actual transportation safety experience (albeit he is a Naval reseve aviator but what does that have to do with toxic trains?). Like the bios of Mike Brown and Stewart Simonson, McCown’s bio shows no particular expertise in the job he is filling," Wieland of Transparent Grid wrote October 7, 2005.

Florida 2000 Vote Recount

On Democratic Underground's "Top Ten Conservative Idiots (Week 11)," March 26, 2001, Oscar Special, in the category "BEST HYPOCRISY INVOLVING THE THEFT OF AN ELECTION":

"The Oscar goes to: Lisa Riddle and Brigham McCown - The last time they showed up at the Palm Beach County Election Office, political consultant Riddle and attorney McCown were furiously arguing that dimpled chads would not, could not, and should not ever count as votes. That was, of course, when it looked like George W. Bush might fail in his bid to cheat his way into the White House. But what's this? It looks like Riddle and McCown have finally seen the light! They appeared at the Election Office again last week to argue on behalf of Boca Raton council candidate Susan Saxton, who finished two votes behind incumbent Dave Freudenberg after Tuesday's election and Wednesday's machine recount. Of course dimpled ballots should count as votes, they argued, it's clear evidence of a voter's intent! When asked about this blatant inconsistency, McClown said, 'there's no inconsistency'. Hello?"

The Populist reported: "[I]n Boca Raton, Fla., city council candidate Susan Saxton, a Republican, sought a hand recount of 11,009 ballots after her two-vote loss March 13. Her lawyer, Brigham McCown, helped George W. Bush's successful effort to stop hand counts of punch-card ballots."

And a March 23, 2001, St. Petersburg Times Op-Ed said that:

"The city council election in Boca Raton is going to court, as loser Susan Saxton asks for a hand recount of 11,000 ballots after her two-vote loss two weeks ago, the Palm Beach Post reports. Fortunately, one of the lawyers involved in George W. Bush's righteous battle against the absurd 'hanging chad' process is on the case.
"Yes, Brigham McCown, GOP legal eagle, will be in court arguing, er, for Republican candidate Saxton in her bid to force a recount.
"You can't leave it up to machines, says McCown: 'It could change the outcome of the election.' Bush backer Saxton added, passionately, 'Maybe there was a hanging chad that closed up during the machine recount. There's certainly a possibility that there are other little chads out there that aren't cooperative.'
"McCown is expected to draw on precedents for hanging chad recounts set last November in New Mexico, when Bush campaign lawyers argued successfully for the greater validity of manual recounting. The principle, it seems, is very simple: Hanging chads count when they hang for Republicans."

Profiles

According to McCown's DOT profile, McCown joined DOT in 2003 "as the first-ever chief counsel of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, where he was responsible for oversight of legal and legislative issues involving the commercial motor carrier, motor coach and moving industry."

"In addition to his legal positions, McCown is also an aviator and a reserve member of the U.S. Navy. During the past 17 years he participated in Operation Desert Storm, Haiti's Operation Support Democracy, counter-narcotics operations, and most recently in Operation Unified Assistance where he participated in Tsunami relief operations in Southeast Asia."

In a November 12, 2002, mini-bio, McCown said that he had "10 years of active duty military service" and was serving as a Reserve Naval Officer. McCown accumulated over 1,500 flight hours in these campaigns. [2]

McCown "earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in diplomacy and foreign affairs from Miami University, Oxford, OH, in 1988, and a law degree from Northern Kentucky University in 1997." [3]

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