Commerce Secretary John Bryson has resigned, less than two weeks after getting involved in a pair of traffic accidents.
In a letter to President Obama, Bryson said, "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."
President Obama confirmed that he has accepted Bryson's resignation.
"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," Obama said in a statement. The two will meet at 3 p.m. today in the Oval Office.
The president's statement did not mention the incident in which Bryson, while on personal time at his home in California, collided with two cars within five minutes and was cited by police for a hit-and-run accident. Bryson said he suffered a seizure while driving.
Bryson, 68, had been on medical leave since the accidents. Deputy Rebecca Blank has been running the department in his absence.
Obama did not address whether he would nominate a successor to Bryson, only that he is confident 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."
The rest of the president's statement:
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.
John has proven himself an effective and distinguished leader throughout his career in both the public and private sectors, from his success in the business world to his work leading on issues in the renewable energy industry.
I am grateful that he brought that invaluable experience and expertise to my administration, and am pleased that he has agreed to continue supporting our efforts to strengthen the economy and create good jobs by serving as a member of my Export Council going forward.
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.
The conservative Club for Growth used Bryson's resignation to suggest that Obama simply eliminate the entire Commerce Department, which has an $8 billion budget and employs 47,000 people, and use the savings to help pay down the national debt.
"The Commerce Department contains many programs that are unnecessary, duplicative, or could easily be done by other departments," said the club's president, former Republican congressman Chris Chocola. "Instead of continuing to flush taxpayer dollars down the drain on the Commerce Department, President Obama could save taxpayers billions by joining with fiscal conservatives in calling for its elimination."
During the Republican presidential primaries, both Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Rep. Ron Paul included Commerce in a list of federal departments they would seek to eliminate.