McDonnell changes commerce secretaries

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Gov. Bob McDonnell withdrew his appointment of Robert C. Sledd as secretary of commerce and trade, instead making him an unpaid senior economic adviser.

Sledd, the founder and former CEO of Performance Food Group, was under scrutiny for his desire to keep his seats on three corporate boards. Virginia Democrats argued that the seats created a conflict of interest.

Sledd sat on the boards of tobacco company Universal Corp. and medical and surgical supply company Owens & Minor, both based in the Richmond area. Sledd also sat on the board of Louisiana-based Pool Corp.

McDonnell’s original appointment for deputy secretary of commerce and trade, James S. Cheng, was sworn in Sunday as his secretary of commerce and trade. 

Cheng was founder of CHM, a government contracting firm that specialized in information technology. He grew his company from a staff of 5 to 550 and revenues grew from $300,000 in 1994 to $90 million in 2004, according to this biography on Old Dominion University’s Web site.

Cheng sold his company in 2005 and has been president of Totus Lighting Systems, a startup energy efficiency firm and has been acting as an angel investor.

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