Nick R. Martin

Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him at nick@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Nick

Following a pair of unusual weekend collisions near his home in California, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson on Monday night notified the president he was taking medical leave and then wrote a memo handing over his duties to his top deputy, Rebecca Blank. Earlier in the day, a White House spokesman said Bryson suffered a seizure during the weekend but stopped short of saying it was the cause of the collisions.

Here's the text of Bryson's memo, released by the Commerce Department:

June 11, 2012


FROM: Secretary John Bryson

SUBJECT: Transfer of Duties During Medical Leave of Absence

I notified President Obama this evening that effective immediately I am taking a medical leave of absence so that I can focus all of my attention on resolving the health issues that arose over the weekend.  During the period of my illness, I will not perform the functions and duties of my office.  Therefore, by operation of law, as my first assistant you will act in my stead for the duration of my absence. 

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U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson has "limited recall" about a pair of bizarre collisions, including a hit and run, he was involved in this weekend in Southern California, an anonymous Commerce Department source told the Associated Press.

Earlier, a spokeswoman for the department said on the record that Bryson had a seizure sometime around the time of the crashes. However, the department and White House have both stopped short of saying whether the seizure caused the crashes.

Investigators in Southern California weren't ruling out any explanations for a pair of bizarre weekend collisions involving U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson, including that drugs or alcohol were involved or that he suffered a prolonged seizure.

Bryson was cited for felony hit and run after he allegedly rear-ended a car on Saturday night in the city of San Gabriel, drove away and then crashed into another car several minutes later in the neighboring city of Rosemead. At the second crash scene, police found Bryson unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus and emergency crews took him to a nearby hospital.

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During a press briefing on Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney offered little new information about U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson's bizarre weekend hit-and-run crash in California, saying "there's more that needs to be learned." Asked whether Bryson was still healthy enough to serve in office after the Commerce Department connected the crash to a seizure, Carney declined to say.

"Well, I would refer you to the Commerce Department for details on Secretary Bryson and his health and more details on this incident," Carney said. "You know, again, we're still in the process of gathering information about it. You understand that this happened — you know, he was alone. This happened on private time, not with his security detail. He was hospitalized. So there's more that needs to be learned."

Watch the video:


White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a press briefing on Monday that a seizure played a role the weekend hit-and-run crash involving U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson. However, he stopped short of blaming the medical condition for the crash.

"The commerce secretary was alone. He had a seizure. He was involved in an accident," Carney said.  Pressed on whether the seizure caused the crash, though, Carney declined to say and instead referred reporters to the Commerce Department.

Despite earlier reports, investigators haven't yet ruled out drugs or alcohol in a bizarre pair of weekend collisions allegedly involving U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson, a lieutenant with the San Gabriel Police Department told TPM on Monday morning.

"We can't confirm that it was no drugs or alcohol," Lt. Ariel Duran said by phone. "We don't know until all the testing comes back. So at this point, it could be one of those or it could be medical."

Duran said he didn't know how long it would take for the Los Angeles County crime lab to come back with test results for drugs or alcohol. Bryson allegedly left the scene of one of the crashes. Duran said Bryson was given a citation for felony hit and run instead of being arrested because he was in no condition to be taken to jail after being found unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus. He said Bryson will have to appear in court within 60 days.

Update: June 1, 2012, 5:03 PM

A Florida judge on Friday ordered George Zimmerman to return to jail within 48 hours, saying the man charged in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin had essentially lied to the court earlier this year.

Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. made the order after prosecutors gave him evidence that they said proved Zimmerman and his wife had intentionally hidden a large amount of money from the court in April. At the time, Zimmerman's family claimed they had very little money to pay a bond to secure his freedom. Because of that, the judge had ruled Zimmerman would be set free under an arrangement where the family only had to pay $15,000.

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A Florida judge on Friday ordered George Zimmerman, the man charged in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, to be hauled back to jail after prosecutors alleged he and his wife lied to the court about the true state of their personal finances.

Charged with second degree murder in the killing, Zimmerman was set free on bond in April.

Florida prosecutors have asked for George Zimmerman's bond to be revoked in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel. The request means that Zimmerman could end up back in jail while he awaits his trial in the killing.

The newspaper's Twitter account dedicated to covering the case posted this message on Friday afternoon:

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A powerful Arizona lawyer called for a criminal investigation into some of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's officers on Thursday after a long-awaited autopsy determined they were partly to blame for the death of Latino military veteran in December.

Attorney Michael Manning told TPM he planned to ask for an outside agency to examine the case of Ernest "Marty" Atencio, who lost consciousness and later died following a fight with law enforcement officers inside one of the sheriff's jails in Phoenix.

Manning said the results of an autopsy released this week, six months after the death, proved what surveillance footage from the jail had already led him to believe: that Atencio would still be alive if sheriff's detention officers and Phoenix cops hadn't ganged up on him, pinned him down and given him electric shocks with a stun gun.

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