Criticized Homeland official resigns

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WASHINGTON - Tracy Henke is out.

The much-vilified homeland security official who oversaw 40-percent cuts in

anti-terror funding to New York and Washington has informed the president of

her resignation amid reports that she was being forced out.

Henke, 37, a political appointee, will leave Oct. 31 to become a senior

adviser at the Ashcroft Group, a Washington lobbying firm headed by her old

boss, former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

"It has become clear with today's political realities, it is highly

unlikely my nomination will be confirmed by the Senate," Henke wrote Oct. 2 to

President George W. Bush.

Henke became the eye of a political hurricane in June after slashing

funding to New York and Washington while bolstering support for cities such as

St. Louis and Kansas City in her home state of Missouri.

A recess appointment by the president, she was said to have almost no

chance of Senate confirmation. Senate and House sources said last week that the

White House indicated it would not resubmit her name.

"My understanding is that it was made clear to her she should go," said

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

"Tracy Henke had to leave the department. Very simply, she did a terrible job

in the decisions she made to award grant money. ... And the department realized

that."

While Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff praised Henke's

diligence yesterday, many read her departure as a tacit acknowledgment of the

department's mistakes.

"This could be a very significant sign of progress," said New York Sen.

Charles Schumer, a Democrat.

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