April 24, 2020 Press Release


Thursday, April 23, 2020 


Putting a Dog Breeder in Charge of Coronavirus at HHS is Absurd. 

It's also business as usual when it comes to unqualified and ill-suited hires at the agency under Trump and Secretary Alex Azar.

Reuters reported yesterday that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar appointed Brian Harrison, a former dog breeder with no apparent qualifications in public health, medicine or large agency management, to coordinate the department’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

While this hire is incredibly irresponsible and shocking, it is par for the course at the Trump administration’s HHS. Azar has a history of putting unqualified politically connected people in leadership roles at his agency. Equity Forward has compiled profiles on the health department’s appointments and hires at HHSWatch.org, highlighting the risks they pose to people in the United States. 

“Under this administration the department has always been a disaster, and we are watching people die as a result. It's time to hold Secretary Azar and Trump accountable for all their irresponsible hires and policies that favor political connections and ideological views over qualifications and expertise. The leadership at our health department doesn't care about the health of people in the U.S. and it shows,” said Mary Alice Carter, Senior Advisor at Equity Forward. 

Here are six other people who were put in leadership positions at HHS who were unequipped or held beliefs diametrically opposed to the role that their office was supposed to play. 

Scott Lloyd, the former head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Lloyd had no experience working with refugees.

Lynn Johnson, who oversees the federal foster care program. Johnson wanted to place foster children in juvenile detention facilities because, according to her, "It doesn't matter which system a kid is in."

Roger Severino, who oversees the Office for Civil Rights. Severino believes that health care providers have the right to deny care to LGBTQ people. 

Diane Foley, head of our nation's birth control program. Foley doesn't have experience managing a birth control program — in fact, she opposes contraception all together. 

Valerie Huber, former head of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and current advisor in the HHS Office of Global Affairs. Huber doesn't believe the TPPP programs she administered help prevent teen unintended pregnancy. 

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