Brown considered for VA chief

November 22, 2008|By Paul West | Paul West,

WASHINGTON - Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, a rising star in Maryland politics, appears to be under serious consideration for secretary of veterans affairs in President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet, according to a news account published yesterday.

Brown, an Iraq war veteran, was named this month as co-chairman of an Obama transition team overseeing veterans policy. He is now being vetted for the job of VA secretary, according to the National Journal, which quoted an anonymous source close to the Obama transition effort as saying that Brown was being seriously considered.

Former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, who suffered the loss of both legs and an arm in the Vietnam War, and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in combat, have also been mentioned as possible choices for the post.

The Obama-Biden transition office would not confirm the report. Michael Raia, Brown's spokesman, declined to comment, saying the lieutenant governor's "primary focus remains serving the people of Maryland."

If selected, he would become at least the second African-American in the Obama Cabinet. Former Justice Department official Eric Holder is in line to become the nation's first African-American attorney general.

Brown, who turned 47 yesterday, served a 10-month tour of duty in Iraq as a member of an Army civil affairs team out of New York in 2004 and 2005 and is a colonel in the Army Reserve. According to his official biography, he is the highest-ranking public official in the nation to have served a tour of duty in Iraq.

In the Democratic primary, Brown actively supported Sen. Hillary Clinton, as did Gov. Martin O'Malley, on whose ticket Brown ran as lieutenant governor in 2006. Brown made numerous campaign appearances, including nine out of state, for Clinton, who is expected to be named secretary of state by Obama.

Brown is a Harvard-educated lawyer, graduating in 1992, one year behind Obama, and like Obama, he married a Harvard Law graduate. Brown and his wife, Patricia Arzuaga, announced last summer that they were separating after 15 years.

A New York native, Brown is the product of a biracial marriage, as is Obama. His father, a doctor, is Jamaican, and his mother is Swiss.

He attended Harvard College on an ROTC scholarship and served five years in the Army as a helicopter pilot after graduating in 1984.

He has been a member of the Army Reserve since 1989.

Baltimore Sun reporter Gadi Dechter contributed to this article.

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