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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 3, 1994

Statement of the President

I have accepted with regret Secretary Mike Espy's offer to resign effective December 31, 1994. This decision will permit me to name a successor efficiently, it will facilitate the work of the Department, and it will enable Secretary Espy to leave his post with an outstanding record of accomplishment that will outlast the uncertainty that exists today.

Secretary Espy has been a relentless champion for American farmers and consumers. Because of his leadership, legislation enabling USDA to reinvent its management and modernize the services it provides farmers and farm communities is nearing completion in Congress. When lives and livelihoods were threatened by natural disasters in rural communities, Mike Espy was our steward for relief efforts. As Agriculture Secretary, he was an advocate for ensuring that people who were hungry in an abundant America were fed by the food we grow here. He fought for agriculture exports, the environment, and for a Department that was service-friendly to farmers and taxpayers. In these duties and others, he served well.

Over the last few weeks, however, the Office of the White House Counsel has reviewed information about Secretary Espy and the actions he took while in office. Although Secretary Espy has said he has done nothing wrong, I am troubled by the appearance of some of these incidents and believe his decision to leave is appropriate. During the remainder of his tenure, Secretary Espy will recuse himself from meat and poultry inspection issues. And I have asked Judge Abner Mikva, the White House Counsel, to continue his review of the Espy case until that review is complete.