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the San Francisco Chronicle

Obama Adviser on Green Jobs Under Attack

Joe Garofoli

Eco-activist Van Jones accepts an award at Global Green USA's 12th Annual Green Cross Millennium Awards in 2008 in Santa Monica, California. The White House on Friday sought to deflect criticism of a special adviser who reportedly holds controversial views on the role of the George W. Bush administration in the attacks of September 11, 2001. (AFP/Getty Images/File/Vince Bucci)

Bay Area environmental activist and White
House adviser Van Jones is under attack from Republicans for signing a
2004 petition calling for a congressional investigation into the
actions of the administration of former President George Bush
surrounding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs offered lukewarm support for
Jones Friday, saying only that "he continues to work in this

Meanwhile, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., called for an investigation of
Jones, who signed a 2004 petition by, which wants
attention paid to "unanswered questions that suggest that people within
the (Bush) Administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to
happen, perhaps as a pretext for war."

Jones, a Yale Law School graduate, said in a statement Friday, "I do
not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my
views now or ever."

That wasn't enough for Bond, the ranking Republican on the Senate
subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy. On Friday, he asked for
a hearing "to reassure the American people that their government is
safe from (Jones') divisive, incendiary and ultimately
counterproductive sentiments."

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said Friday that Jones should resign
because "his extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this
administration or the public debate."

Controversial speech

The controversy is the latest for the longtime Bay Area activist,
who apologized this week for calling Republicans "-holes" during a
speaking engagement in Berkeley a month before his appointment in March
as special adviser for green jobs at the White House Council on
Environmental Quality.

In the speech, Jones used the same term to describe himself and the political resolve needed to move legislation.

In the liberal Bay Area, Jones - who transformed from street
activist and neo-Marxist to being the first African American to write
an environmental book to appear on the New York Times best-seller list
- has had the support of politicians.

In the mid-1990s, he co-founded the Ella Baker Center for Human
Rights, an Oakland group focusing on police brutality that includes Bay
Area PoliceWatch.

He is friends with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and former Vice
President Al Gore, and has appeared at forums at UC Berkeley's Boalt
Hall School of Law. This year, Time magazine named Jones one of the 100
most influential people in the world.

Liberal 'superstar'

Newsom described Jones as "a superstar" before the
environmentalist's address at last year's Netroots Nation convention of
liberal online activists.

"Van Jones and Mayor Newsom are good friends and the mayor stands by
him," Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard said Friday, adding that the
sentiments in the 9/11 petition Jones signed "does not reflect
(Newsom's) point of view."

But critics, including Newsom's ex-wife Fox News commentator
Kimberly Guilfoyle, told the network's Sean Hannity this week that
"clearly (Jones) wasn't vetted. All (the White House) had to do was go
and ask a couple of questions in San Francisco about this individual."

This summer, Color of Change, an online activist organization that
Jones co-founded to focus on issues in the African American community,
called on advertisers to boycott Fox News commentator Glenn Beck after
Beck said President Obama "has a deep-seated hatred for white people."

Some ads pulled

A few dozen companies responded by pulling their ads from Beck's
show. Jones has not been active with the organization for the past 1
1/2 years.

Beck talked about Jones' past, including his participation in a Bay
Area neo-Marxist organization called Standing Together to Organize a
Revolutionary Movement in the mid-1990s.

The East Bay Express, a weekly newspaper, described the group in a
profile of Jones in 2005 as hopeful of "a multiracial socialist
utopia." Jones left the group in 1996 to co-found the Ella Baker Center.

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