Warren calls on ex-FDA chief to resign from Pfizer board

Warren calls on ex-FDA chief to resign from Pfizer board
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden says he won't legalize marijuana because it may be a 'gateway drug' Democrats seize on report of FedEx's Elizabeth Warren tax bill to slam Trump's tax plan Warren 'fully committed' to 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Mass.) on Tuesday called for the former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Scott Gottlieb, to reconsider his decision to join Pfizer’s board of directors.

Warren, a 2020 White House hopeful, praised Gottlieb’s work during his tenure at FDA in a letter, but said his decision to join the board of a company he used to regulate “smacks of corruption.”

“This kind of revolving door influence-peddling smacks of corruption, and makes the American people rightly cynical and distrustful about whether high-level Trump administration officials are working for them, or for their future corporate employers,” Warren wrote in the letter, dated Monday.

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Pfizer announced last week that Gottlieb, who left the FDA less than three months ago, was joining the company’s board. Prior to his two-year tenure at the agency, Gottlieb had been on the board of several smaller pharmaceutical companies. 

Board members of Pfizer in 2018 were paid $142,500 in cash retainers, and received $192,500 worth of Pfizer stock, according to a regulatory filing. 

“You should rectify your mistake and immediately resign from your position as a Pfizer board member. Doing so would send a strong and necessary message to the American people about the importance of government ethics and the integrity of current and former federal officials,” Warren wrote.

Warren noted that Gottlieb is the second high-level Trump administration official to join the board of a corporation with interests related to their work in the administration. 

Former Homeland Security secretary and White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE recently joined the board of Caliburn, Inc., the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which runs the shelter for unaccompanied children in Homestead, Fla. 

Gottlieb did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said on Twitter that he would respond to Warren privately.

“While I was at FDA, I had a productive relationship with Senator Warren, working together to advance shared public health goals. I respect the Senator, and I will respond to her letter that I received today from reporters promptly, directly, and privately,” Gottlieb tweeted.