Bryson resigns as commerce secretary, citing seizure tied to car crashes

Commerce Secretary John Bryson, already on medical leave, has formally resigned his post. Bryson had stepped aside for medical reasons earlier this month after allegedly being involved in a pair of hit-and-run car crashes in Southern California and suffering a seizure.

"I have decided to step down as the Secretary of Commerce," Bryson wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama, dated Wednesday. "I have concluded that the seizure I suffered on June 9th could be a distraction from my performance as Secretary and that our country would be better served by a change in leadership of the Department."

Obama said in a statement released by the White House that he had accepted Bryson's resignation late Wednesday.

"I want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to John for his service over the past months, and wish him and his family the very best," the president said.

"As Secretary, John fought tirelessly for our nation's businesses and workers, helping to bolster our exports and promote American manufacturing and products at home and abroad," Obama said.

Bryson will continue to serve on the president's Export Council, Obama said."I am confident that Dr. Rebecca Blank will serve the American people well as Acting Secretary and that the Commerce Department staff will continue their tireless work putting forward policies that help our workers and businesses compete," Obama said.

Obama was to meet with Bryson in the Oval Office at 3 p.m. That event was to be open to still photographers only.

Bryson allegedly caused two separate car accidents in the space of five minutes late in the afternoon on June 9 in Southern California. The Cabinet secretary was at the wheel of his Lexus when he rear-ended a Buick that was stopped at a railroad crossing in San Gabriel, according to the San Gabriel Police Department. He spoke with the Buick's male occupants, then drove away, "hitting the same car again as he left," said a police statement. The men tailed Bryson and called the police. They witnessed the secretary hit a second car. Bryson's spokeswoman said later that he had suffered a seizure.