President Biden’s latest nominations for leading positions in the government have been scrutinized, and his selection for the next director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, has come under fire from critics of the White House. While President Biden cited Dr. Bertagnolli’s achievements in the field of oncology, critics have taken issue with the fact that the announcement emphasized the good doctor’s record of scientific innovation without mentioning her close ties to Big Pharma.
Some have raised concerns that Dr. Bertagnolli’s receipt of more than 116 grants from Pfizer, totaling $290.8 million, between 2015 and 2021 creates the potential for conflicts of interest moving forward in the role of director of the National Institutes of Health. In fact, 89% of all her research grants came from Pfizer during that period. While Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is quick to acknowledge that this doesn’t necessarily render the nominee “personally corrupt,” he suggests that it’s a worrying sign that Bertagnolli will be inclined to prioritize the interests of Big Pharma over what’s best for the American people.
Yesterday, President Biden announced Dr. Monica Bertagnolli as his intended nominee for Director of the NIH. Guess what? From 2015-2021, Bertagnolli received more than 116 grants from Pfizer, totaling $290.8 million. This amount made up 89% of all her. research grants.…
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) May 16, 2023
According to Kennedy, Bertagnolli’s nomination is indicative of the broader problem of revolving door politics. The potential for regulatory capture at the hands of those who have worked closely with the entities they’re tasked with regulating may seem like a distant, abstract concern for some, but it’s a reality that poses a threat to the integrity of our government and the interests of ordinary Americans. By failing to disclose the details of Bertagnolli’s background, the White House reveals a disregard for transparency that belies the urgency of the situation.
What’s concerning about Bertagnolli’s nomination and the potential for regulatory capture is that it’s not an isolated incident. It represents a trend in the Biden administration of being willing to overlook essential details about their nominees, so long as they fit the administration’s political agenda. It seems that Democrats only care about diversity of skin color and gender, not diversity of thought or background. Republicans have always been skeptical of the revolving door that shuttles government bureaucrats back and forth between government and private sectors, and Bertagnolli’s nomination only highlights how this can be detrimental to the American people.