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 ShaubLouisiana House candidate fundraises off opponent's tweet about wife's 'premonition' dream Trump breaks with precedent on second night of convention Democratic senators call for ethics review into Ivanka Trump's Goya tweet MORE.


Christine Pelosi, daughter of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Businesses, wealthy brace for Biden tax hikes | Dow falls more than 650 points as COVID-19 cases rise, stimulus hopes fade | Kudlow doesn't expect Trump to release detailed economic plan before election Overnight Health Care: US sets a new record for average daily coronavirus cases | Meadows on pandemic response: 'We're not going to control it' | Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy Gaffes put spotlight on Meadows at tough time for Trump MORE (D-Calif.), knocked President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote 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."