DOCUMENT: Fail, Stupid

More "Brownie" Buffoonery

In Katrina's midst, ex-FEMA boss sent embarrassing e-mails

Michael Brown

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More "Brownie" Buffoonery

NOVEMBER 3--As Michael "Brownie" Brown was botching the federal emergency response to Hurricane Katrina, the ousted FEMA director sent a series of embarrassing e-mails to colleagues discussing his appearance, the care of his dog, and, as the storm was making landfall, his desire to "quit" and "go home."

Copies of Brown's e-mails were just provided by Department of Homeland Security officials to a congressional panel examining the government's disaster response (a sampling of that correspondence can be found here).

On August 29, as Katrina was striking the Gulf Coast, Brown responded to a compliment about his appearance on TV by stating, "I got it at Nordsstroms...Are you proud of me? Can I quit now? Can I go home?" An hour later, Brown wrote about his government-issued wardrobe: "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god."

Other messages dealt with Brown's need for a dog sitter, how the hurricane had "trapped" him in his job, and his press secretary's suggestion that he should roll up his shirtsleeves because "on TV you just need to look more hard-working." And on September 6, as the Army Corps of Engineers began pumping water from New Orleans, Brown offered his press flack helpful advice on ordering at Sonic: "Order a #2, tater tots, large diet cherry limeade." (7 pages)