FAA Backs Down: Reinstates Inspector Fired for Talking to MoJo


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!

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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