Nuclear chief Jaczko says he's ‘mortified’ by staff allegations of verbal abuse

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko told a Senate committee Thursday that he is “mortified” by allegations that he verbally abused female staffers at the agency.

“I have never intentionally berated, threatened, bullied or intimidated any member of the staff,” Jaczko said Thursday during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, adding that he is “mortified” by the allegations from NRC Commissioner William Magwood, a fellow Democrat.

Magwood raised concerns Wednesday in testimony delivered during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing about what he described as Jaczko’s “abusive behavior toward the staff.” Magwood and three other NRC commissioners have launched a public revolt against Jaczko's leadership in recent days.

Magwood cited conversations with three female NRC employees whom he said had been berated by Jaczko.

“One woman told me that she felt the chairman was actually irritated with someone else, but took it out on her,” Magwood said during Wednesday’s testimony, declining to identify the women.

“Another said she was angry at herself for being brought to tears in front of male colleagues. A third described how she couldn’t stop shaking after her experience. She sat, talking with her supervisor, until she could calm down sufficiently to drive home,” Magwood said.

Jaczko insisted Thursday that he has never intentionally berated his staff.

“There are times when I can question people intensely and that’s something I am aware of in my style,” Jaczko added.

Jaczko said he had never seen a staffer cry in his presence as a result of a conversation with him and only learned of the alleged incidents in recent days.

Republican Commissioners Kristine Svinicki and William Ostendorff both said they were aware of the incidents in which Jaczko allegedly berated three female staffers. Commissioner George Apostolakis, a Democrat, said he was not aware of the incidents.

Democrats defended Jaczko’s leadership Thursday.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerFirst senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List Bass gets mayoral endorsement from former California senator MORE (D-Calif.) said her staff had spoken to women at the NRC who defended Jaczko.

“They found the opposite, in fact, that the chairman, according to one respected female staffer, was ‘the most fair person she’d ever met,’ ” Boxer said, adding that one woman told her staff, “What I am floored by is the conduct of the other commissioners.”