FAA Backs Down: Reinstates Inspector Fired for Talking to MoJo

| Fri Mar. 16, 2007 8:54 PM EDT

Mike Gonzales, the FAA inspector who had been on administrative leave for almost ten months, is back at work in the FAA's Scottsdale, Arizona, office. Gonzales, you may remember, was notified that the FAA had begun termination proceedings against him for supposedly "abusing his position" by escorting a Mother Jones reporter into a TIMCO aircraft-repair facility without identifying his guest as a journalist. The allegation was BS, as Frank Koughan, the reporter in question, demonstrated in this story, which features sound clips that clearly refute the FAA's allegations.

The irony is that the FAA could have avoided all this simply by letting its employees talk to Mother Jones in the first place. But instead they would only allow FAA staff to speak in their capacity as representatives of their union. Mother Jones honored that agreement, only to have the FAA harass staff who did speak to us. The original story on the FAA, "Waiting to Happen," painted a picture of an agency that is in bed with the industry it is supposed to regulate: By trying to muscle out one its own staff in order to protect the repair facility, the FAA only confirmed that its customer is the aircraft industry, not the flying public.

Adding to the outrage, remember that Gonzales was on full pay for the nine and half months he was placed on leave, a waste of taxpayer dollars that could have been better spent on letting him inspect aircraft!