HUD's Shaun Donovan was Cabinet's 'designated survivor'
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan served as the Cabinet's "designated survivor," White House officials said Wednesday night.
Donovan stayed away from the U.S. Capitol during President Obama's State of the Union address, prepared to assume control of the federal government in the event of a catastrophic event during the speech.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. served as "designated survivor" last year and was the third attorney general in recent history to stay away from the big speech.
The first acknowledgment of an absent Cabinet secretary appears to have been in 1963, when then-Rep. Charles S. Joelson (D-N.J.) told The Washington Post that "seldom if ever do all of the Cabinet members show up for joint sessions." The White House first publicly released the name of the designated absentee during the Nixon administration, according to the Senate Historical Office.
Since 1984, records show, the interior secretary has skipped the big speech most often. Last year, Dirk Kempthorne did not attend Bush's final State of the Union speech. Other interior secretaries staying away: Gale Norton in 2002, Bruce Babbitt in 1993, Manuel Lujan in 1991 and Donald P. Hodel in 1988.
Donald Evans, commerce secretary from 2001 to 2005, is the only Cabinet secretary to serve as designated survivor twice, in 2004 and 2005.
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| January 27, 2010; 8:48 PM ET
Categories: 44: Obama's Washington, Administration
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