Sen. Sanders says ‘McCarthyite’ tactics were used against outgoing nuke chief

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko is on his way out the door, but Capitol Hill lawmakers aren’t done with battles over his controversial tenure atop the agency.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Senate healthcare debate heats up UK Labour leader has ‘message on the wall’ for Trump Sanders: ‘Thousands will die’ under GOP health bill MORE (I-Vt.), at a Senate hearing to vet Jaczko’s replacement, defended the outgoing chairman against the various attacks over his management and behavior that have come from other NRC members and GOP lawmakers.

“I am upset about the level of personal attacks that have been waged against him from within this committee and the NRC itself,” Sanders said at the Environment and Public Works Committee hearing.

Defenders of Jaczko — a Democrat who is a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDems see surge of new candidates Dems to grind Senate to a halt over ObamaCare repeal fight GOP fires opening attack on Dem reportedly running for Heller's Senate seat MORE (D-Nev.) — say the attacks have stemmed from opposition to his nuclear safety efforts.

“Those personal attacks were a smokescreen for a philosophical divide that exists within the NRC,” Sanders, a critic of nuclear power, said Wednesday. “I think he was subject to McCarthyite tactics, and I hope we don’t see a repeat of that.”

But Jaczko came under fresh attack from several GOP members of the committee, which met Wednesday to consider Allison Macfarlane, President Obama’s nominee to replace Jaczko.

Jaczko announced his resignation in May but will remain with the agency until the Senate confirms his replacement.

Sen. John BarrassoJohn BarrassoSunday shows preview: Senate healthcare debate heats up A frantic scramble before possible healthcare vote next week Overnight Healthcare: Senate GOP leader expects health vote next week | Senate Republicans consider deeper Medicaid cuts | Dems vow to block Senate work MORE (R-Wyo.) on Wednesday called Jaczko’s tenure a “dark period” at the NRC.

Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeMcCain strikes back as Trump’s chief critic Turbulence for Trump on air traffic control Parliamentarian threatens deadly blow to GOP healthcare bill MORE (R-Okla.), the top GOP member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, also took aim at Jaczko.

“Given the numerous reports of Chairman Jaczko's failed leadership at the NRC, it was right of him to resign last month. By removing himself as a distraction to the agency, the Commission can once again focus on its mission of nuclear safety,” Inhofe said at the hearing.

Jaczko has faced allegations including claims that he withheld information from fellow commissioners and has been verbally abusive, among other complaints.

A 2011 inspector general report alleged that Jaczko controls information given to other commissioners, though the report found that the chairman broke no law. The report also included claims from unnamed staff members that Jaczko often lost his temper, berating employees.

Jaczko has strongly denied the allegations that he verbally abused NRC staff, taking particular umbrage to claims that he targeted women.

Click here and here for more coverage of Jaczko criticisms, and rebuttals from his defenders.