FEMA’s John “Pat” Philbin Responds Directly to PRNewser
October 29, 2007
The moment we received John Philbin’s going-away memo from FEMA via anonymous tip, we immediately used Philbin’s personal email address included to find out more.
Mr. Philbin responded almost immediately, expressing disappointment that we did not seek his comment on the situation sooner. Prior to writing this, I wrote back, explaining that by the time I began my reporting process, his FEMA email was already on auto-reply and his colleagues would only refer me to the statement regarding the problem. After a few reply, PRNewser received a quote from FEMA press secretary Aaron Walker concerning Philbin’s new position at ODNI (now rescinded).
Here is Philbin’s personal email to PRNewser, in its entirety:
I am disappointed that prnewser is now seeking a comment when you didn’t ask for a statement when news about the briefing emerged. I did not orchestrate or direct a “fake” media brief as has been characterized in press reports nor did I direct staff to ask questions. FEMA sought to deliver information quickly following a video teleconference about the California fires. The information provided was timely and accurate; however, I should have intervened when staff began asking questions because no media had arrived. I regret not acting in the moment as I should have. As the person in charge, this was my responsibility.
I have spent my entire time at FEMA working long hours and weekends improving its transparency, employee communications and external affairs operations. I regret this has transpired in the manner it has. FEMA is a terrific organization with loyal employees who are committed to helping disaster victims–and it is unfortunate that this message is getting lost in this story.
I respect the Director and understand ODNI’s concerns as a result of this situation.