Basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson resigned Friday from the National Commission on AIDS, saying he was fed up with a lack of support from the Bush administration.
"I cannot in good conscience continue to serve on a commission whose important work is so utterly ignored by your administration," Johnson wrote in a letter faxed to the White House. "I am sorry to have to write this letter, but I am afraid that there is little that will be accomplished in the next four months."Accordingly, I have regretfully decided to resign your appointment to the National Commission on AIDS."
Johnson threatened in July to resign because of what he said was insufficient funding for the panel.
"While I don't expect the other commissioners to resign any time soon, we certainly share his frustration," said Lawrence J. Kessler of Boston, a member of the commission. "When I spoke to Magic this morning, I told him that we valued his vision and will continue to work with him on other issues.
"I hope that he will continue to be a voice that challenges this administration and the next."
Johnson, 33, announced Nov. 7 he had tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and that he was retiring immediately from professional basketball. He was then named by President Bush to the AIDS commission.
"We regret the decision by Magic Johnson to resign," said White House deputy press secretary Judy Smith, traveling with Bush on a campaign trip to Illinois. "The administration and Mr. Johnson are both committed to ridding this nation of AIDS.
"Combating this disease is an administration priority. It has increased funding since 1988 by 170 percent and in 1992 spent $4.3 billion for research, more than for any other disease except cancer."
The administration has proposed $4.9 billion in AIDS spending in 1993, Smith said.