The United States has had an Ebola czar for about 10 years now.
The current one’s name is Dr. Nicole Lurie. She works at the US Department of Health and Human Services.
So why haven’t we seen her at any point after the first and second diagnoses of Ebola in the United States?
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway looked into that, and found a scandal.
There are a few interesting things about the scandal Lurie was embroiled in years ago. You can—and should—read all about it in the Los Angeles Times‘ excellent front-page expose from November 2011, headlined: “Cost, need questioned in $433-million smallpox drug deal: A company controlled by a longtime political donor gets a no-bid contract to supply an experimental remedy for a threat that may not exist.” This Forbes piece is also interesting.
The donor is billionaire Ron Perelman, who was controlling shareholder of Siga. He’s a huge Democratic donor but he also gets Republicans to play for his team, of course. Siga was under scrutiny even back in October 2010 when The Huffington Post reported that it had named labor leader Andy Stern to its board and “compensated him with stock options that would become dramatically more valuable if the company managed to win the contract it sought with HHS—an agency where Stern has deep connections, having helped lead the year-plus fight for health care reform as then head of the Service Employees International Union.”
The award was controversial from almost every angle—including disputes about need, efficacy, and extremely high costs. There were also complaints about awarding a company of its size and structure a small business award as well as the negotiations involved in granting the award. It was so controversial that even Democrats in tight election races were calling for investigations.
Last month, Siga filed for bankruptcy after it was found liable for breaching a licensing contract. The drug it’s been trying to develop, which was projected to have limited utility, has not really panned out—yet the feds have continued to give valuable funds to the company even though the law would permit them to recoup some of their costs or to simply stop any further funding.
The Los Angeles Times revealed that, during the fight over the grant, Lurie wrote to Siga’s chief executive, Dr. Eric A. Rose, to tell him that someone new would be taking over the negotiations with the company. She wrote, “I trust this will be satisfactory to you.” Later she denied that she’d had any contact with Rose regarding the contract, saying such contact would have been inappropriate.
But she did have the contact.
There’s much more at the link. It looks like America’s Ebola czar was playing politics with our money when she should have been preparing the United States for a potential outbreak.
In recent years across Republican and Democrat administrations, but especially during Democratic ones, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has strayed far from its core mission, which is obviously disease control. It got into gun control, which has nothing to do with disease, and even played around with zombie preparedness, despite the fact that zombies do not exist.
It appears that the taxpayer-funded agency was bored with its core mission, and crept into new ones. But what about Dr. Lurie? As they says these days, “You had one job!” And that job was not to use taxpayer money to make rich leftists even richer.