HHS secretary faces criticism over naming aide with little public health experience to lead COVID-19 response

The Trump administration has garnered criticism after an investigation revealed that the top Health and Human Services (HHS) official overseeing the department's day-to-day coronavirus response has little public health experience and previously worked as a dog breeder.

A Reuters investigation revealed that HHS Secretary Alex Azar appointed a top aide, Brian Harrison, to oversee the department's daily efforts against the virus, despite Harrison having little public health experience outside of one year at HHS in 2006 as Azar's "confidential assistant" while Azar was deputy secretary.

The news drew negative comments online, including from former Office of Government Ethics director Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubThousands march on Washington in voting rights push White House defends plans for Hunter Biden art sale Hunter Biden artwork attracts ethics scrutiny: report MORE.


Christine Pelosi, daughter of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Jan. 6 committee taps former Bush administration official as top lawyer Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan MORE (D-Calif.), knocked President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE over the appointment, referring back to his campaign promise to put "only the best people" in positions of importance.


Harrison has also worked for former Vice President Dick Cheney, according to Reuters, as well as the Department of Defense and a PR firm.

Harrison owned a labradoodle breeding company in Texas from 2012 to 2018, the news service reported. Since rejoining HHS in 2019, he has served as deputy chief of staff and chief of staff to Azar.

Harrison defended his work history in a statement to Reuters, telling the news service: “Americans would be well served by having more government officials who have started and worked in small family businesses and fewer trying to use that experience to attack them and distort the record."