Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has launched a blistering verbal assault against William Magwood, a Democratic member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission nominated by President Obama, calling him a “liar,” a “first-class rat,” and a “s**t-stirrer.”
Reid, in an interview with The Huffington Post, also calls Magwood a “tool of the nuclear industry” and says he’s “unethical” and “incompetent.”
Reid’s comments underscore the raw political emotions that have engulfed the NRC over the past year and have long surrounded battles over Yucca Mountain, the proposed nuclear waste dump in Nevada that Reid strongly opposes.
In the interview, Reid alleged that Magwood lied by indicating in a private meeting with the majority leader he would back efforts to shut down the Yucca project.
“That man I will never, ever forget what a treacherous, miserable liar he is,” Reid said. He also took aim at Magwood’s accusations against former NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko.
Jaczko is a former Reid aide who recently departed the NRC, a move that followed accusations of a bullying management style and other complaints by Magwood and other NRC members.
Allison Macfarlane, whom the Senate recently confirmed as Jaczko’s replacement atop the NRC, has pledged to bring “collegiality” to the agency, which has been hampered by infighting.
Reid, according to The Huffington Post, took aim at Magwood’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering at the NRC.
“He's a first-class rat. He lied to Rouse, he lied to me, and he had a plan. He is a tool of the nuclear industry. A tool,” Reid said in the story, referring to Pete Rouse, a top White House aide.
“Magwood was a s**t-stirrer. He did everything he could do to embarrass Greg Jaczko,” Reid said.
Magwood’s office did not provide immediate comment on Reid’s remarks Monday morning, and a spokesman for the NRC’s Office of Public Affairs declined comment.
Magwood won Senate confirmation in March of 2010. He previously headed Energy Department nuclear programs from 1998 to 2005.
Asked if Reid stands behind his comments, Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson replied in an email, “absolutely.”