|CASE STATED Lobbying on behalf of NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has been unusually bold, even for ego-heavy Washington.|
Family, friends launch petition drive to save job of NASA chief
WASHINGTON - Late on Christmas Eve, one last wish was sent, by e-mail: Please let NASA Administrator Michael Griffin keep his job. The e-mail was from his wife.
Rebecca Griffin, who works in marketing, sent her message with the subject line "Campaign for Mike" to friends and family. It asked them to sign an online petition to President-elect Barack Obama "to consider keeping Mike Griffin on as NASA Administrator."
She wrote, "Yes, once again I am embarrassing my husband by reaching out to our friends and 'imposing' on them. . . . And if this is inappropriate, I'm sorry."
The petition drive, which said the President Bush appointee "has brought a sense of order and purpose to the US space agency," was organized by Scott "Doc" Horowitz of Park City, Utah, an ex-astronaut and former NASA associate administrator.
A cash-strapped NASA last week also sent - by priority mail costing $6.75 a package - copies of a new NASA book called "Leadership in Space: Selected Speeches of NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, May 2005-October 2008." And just before the presidential election, Griffin sent a letter to Obama saying, "I am deeply grateful to you, personally, for your leadership" on the vote to allow NASA to use Russian spaceships.
Efforts by those close to Griffin lobbying on his behalf are unusually bold, even for ego-heavy Washington.
Past efforts on behalf of job hopefuls have been more behind the scenes so deniability can be maintained.
"It sounds like the only thing left is to stencil Mike Griffin on the side of the shuttle," joked Paul Light, a professor of public policy and a presidential transition specialist at New York University. "I've never heard of a campaign to keep one's job that goes beyond the edge of private discussion.. . . Maybe he should be texting next."
David Goldston, a former chief of staff for the House Science Committee and a lecturer on science policy at Harvard University, said, "This kind of public campaigning to keep a job is unusual and usually tends to backfire in new administrations."
Griffin's press secretary, David Mould, said that Griffin is not campaigning to keep his job and figures that Obama will name a new NASA chief. However, he said, Griffin would be honored to be asked to stay on the job.
"A lot of people seem to like and support Mike and think he's doing a good job," Mould said. He said he couldn't speak for the administrator's wife and she did not answer an e-mail.
As for Griffin's book of speeches, it was a natural for the NASA history office and coincides with the end of the presidential term, Mould said.
Griffin, a rocket scientist who holds seven degrees, has been on the job since 2005. His background is strikingly different from his predecessor, Sean O'Keefe, a former budget office official. Griffin oversaw the successful return to space flight two years after the 2003 Columbia tragedy, in which seven astronauts were killed.