Ag Secretary Vilsack says he offered Sherrod ‘unique’ post; she says she’s considering return

By Mary Clare Jalonick, AP
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ag secretary offers Sherrod ‘unique’ position

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday he has apologized to ousted employee Shirley Sherrod and offered her a unique new position at the agency.

Sherrod, in an interview with The Associated Press, said she was considering it.

“They did make an offer,” she said in a telephone interview. “I just told him I need to think about it.”

Vilsack told reporters that Sherrod accepted his apology. He said, “She was extraordinarily gracious.”

The new job offer comes after an embarrassed White House apologized to Sherrod Wednesday for ousting her over her remarks about race to an NAACP banquet in Georgia earlier this year. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration did not know all the facts when it acted.

When asked Wednesday if he had spoken with President Barack Obama, Vilsack said simply, “No.”

Vilsack insisted that it had been his decision to seek her resignation and said he takes full responsibility.

“This is a good woman,” Vilsack said. “She’s been put through hell.”

Sherrod resigned this week as state director of rural development in Georgia. She said she quit under pressure from the White House.

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