Recent stories in the Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel suggest NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, who’s been taking heat from some in Congress for traveling to China this week, might not be long for the job.
The China trip is just the latest in a string of minor controversies involving the former U.S. Marine Corps aviator, who became NASA’s first African-American administrator in 2009. He recently received a slap on the wrist from the White House for an ethics breach — he contacted a company to which he has business ties — and has raised eyebrows in Washington with a number of peculiar statements.
“Yet Bolden’s career-capping accomplishment has suffered unexpected setbacks amid growing congressional scrutiny of his goodwill mission to China, a slap on the wrist by the NASA inspector general for an ethics faux pas and growing signs that White House officials are quietly maneuvering the NASA administrator offstage, raising questions from some Washington insiders who wonder whether he will be replaced in coming months,” the Houston Chronicle said in its story, dated Oct. 15.
“Fueling the talk is the rocky relationship between Bolden and the White House, which has been strained since President Barack Obama introduced his new plan for space exploration in February,” the Orlando Sentinel said in an Oct. 18 story.
Both stories quote Lori Garver, Bolden’s deputy, as saying there is “always speculation about people’s tenure in Washington.”