Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano suddenly announced last week that she was resigning her position at the embattled agency in order to take a $750,000-a-year job as president of the University of California system. This will more than triple her salary, which was $200,000 at DHS.
The timing of her resignation is highly unusual for a member of the president’s cabinet. Most cabinet members who leave after a president’s first term don’t wait an extra six months into the second term. Many believe she abruptly left DHS because of some sordid dealings that are about to be discovered. Her tenure at DHS has been characterized by back-to-back lawsuits and multiple controversies regarding the agencies DHS oversees, which include the TSA, ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services and FEMA.
Napolitano was known in Arizona for her backroom deals and ruthless targeting of conservatives, a pattern she continued as DHS chief. In 2009, she issued a DHS report entitled, "Rightwing [sic] Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” In it, conservatives who prefer local government over federal government, Christians who believe in the “end times,” and single-issue groups, such as groups that oppose abortion and illegal immigration, are singled out and compared to dangerous insurgents, who have “the potential to turn violent.” People concerned about the Second Amendment have “the potential to facilitate criminal activity and violence.” Conservatives are compared to dangerous extremists like the late Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the Oklahoma IRS building. It is claimed in the memo that these types of conservatives have formed their political views because they are racist against blacks and Obama. At the end, readers are urged to report these kinds of people to DHS.
Napolitano was tapped by former President Bill Clinton for U.S. attorney after she came to public prominence as an attorney representing Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas at his judicial confirmation hearings, where Hill accused the married Thomas of sexually harassing her. In his book, The Real Anita Hill, David Brock documented how Napolitano put a witness on the stand who wasn’t corroborating Hill’s version of the facts, so Napolitano took her off the stand and had her return and claim amnesia. After leaving the U.S. attorney’s office, Napolitano became state attorney general, where her only memorable accomplishment was banning Christmas decorations from the public areas of the office, which received national attention and protest.