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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Clip shows Larry David and Bernie Sanders reacting after discovering they're related For now, Trump dossier creates more questions than answers 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 ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial 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 Anthony BarrassoDems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick Overnight Regulation: EPA misses smog rule deadline | Search is on for new HHS chief | ACLU sues over abortion pill restrictions | Justices weigh gerrymandering Price resignation sets off frenzy of speculation over replacement MORE (R-Wyo.) on Wednesday called Jaczko’s tenure a “dark period” at the NRC.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeA third of Congress hasn’t held a town hall — it’s time to take action Anonymous affiliate publishes claimed list of GOP private contact info Wasting America’s nuclear opportunity 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.