Home Biomedical research Washington Examiner: White House science adviser ‘bullied’ more than a dozen staff, investigation finds

Washington Examiner: White House science adviser ‘bullied’ more than a dozen staff, investigation finds

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White House science adviser ‘bullied’ more than a dozen staff, investigation finds

This article features Government Accountability Project whistleblower client Rachel Wallace and was originally published here.

An internal White House investigation found “credible evidence” that a member of President Joe Biden’s team frequently belittled administration officials.

Recordings obtained by Politics of an internal White House briefing on the investigation’s findings in January described multiple “disrespectful interactions” between Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Eric Lander and his staff, directly accusing Lander of having ” bullied” former OSTP general counsel Rachel Wallace. A total of 14 current and former OSTP members have complained about Lander’s behavior.

Although both men and women claimed to have been the targets of his outbursts, the briefing called Lander’s behavior towards female employees particularly “demeaning or abrasive”.

An internal White House investigation found “credible evidence” that a member of President Joe Biden’s team frequently belittled administration officials.

Recordings obtained by Politics of an internal White House briefing on the investigation’s findings in January described multiple “disrespectful interactions” between Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Eric Lander and his staff, directly accusing Lander of having ” bullied” former OSTP general counsel Rachel Wallace. A total of 14 current and former OSTP members have complained about Lander’s behavior.

Although both men and women claimed to have been the targets of his outbursts, the briefing called Lander’s behavior towards female employees particularly “demeaning or abrasive”.

Lander apologized for his behavior in an email sent to all staff on Friday afternoon.

“I am deeply sorry for my conduct. I especially want to apologize to those of you whom I treated poorly or who were present at the time,” the email read. It is my responsibility to set a respectful tone in our community. It is clear that I have not lived up to this responsibility. I have spoken to fellow OSTP in a disrespectful or demeaning manner.

Yet Wallace and other OSTP staff say Lander should have faced harsher consequences for his action, which, according to Politics“forced Lander to hold more collaborative meetings with his subordinates” and scheduled 30- and 45-day evaluations to see if Lander’s behavior improves.

Wallace claims that Lander often “retaliated against staff for talking and asking questions by calling them names, belittling them, embarrassing them in front of their peers, making fun of them, avoiding them, stripping them of their positions and either replacing them or driving them out of the agency.”

“Many women have been left in tears, traumatized and feeling vulnerable and isolated,” she added. “Lander’s apology wasn’t just dishonest. This compounded the deep hurt and damage he caused by ignoring these other acts of aggression, harassment and retaliation.

Wallace was demoted by Lander from general counsel to assistant counsel in 2021, though it should be noted that the White House investigation did not find the demotion to be “procedurally improper.”

Biden promised shortly after taking office that he would not tolerate workplace policy violations. Former White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo resigned shortly after Biden’s engagement after reports of an altercation in which he verbally admonished a member of the press.

White House officials confirmed senior leadership met with Lander to “discuss the seriousness of the matter and the president’s expectation that all interactions with staff be conducted with respect,” but declined to comment. any further.

A spokesperson for the OSTP said Politics this “Corrective action has been taken in accordance with the findings of the investigation and that the office will ‘let Eric’s apology to our team speak for itself.’

An internal White House investigation found “credible evidence” that a member of President Joe Biden’s team frequently belittled administration officials.

Recordings obtained by Politics of an internal White House briefing on the investigation’s findings in January described multiple “disrespectful interactions” between Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Eric Lander and his staff, directly accusing Lander of having ” bullied” former OSTP general counsel Rachel Wallace. A total of 14 current and former OSTP members have complained about Lander’s behavior.

Although both men and women claimed to have been the targets of his outbursts, the briefing called Lander’s behavior towards female employees particularly “demeaning or abrasive”.

Lander apologized for his behavior in an email sent to all staff on Friday afternoon.

“I am deeply sorry for my conduct. I especially want to apologize to those of you whom I treated poorly or who were present at the time,” the email read. It is my responsibility to set a respectful tone in our community. It is clear that I have not lived up to this responsibility. I have spoken to fellow OSTP in a disrespectful or demeaning manner.

Yet Wallace and other OSTP staff say Lander should have faced harsher consequences for his action, which, according to Politics“forced Lander to hold more collaborative meetings with his subordinates” and scheduled 30- and 45-day evaluations to see if Lander’s behavior improves.

Wallace claims that Lander often “retaliated against staff for talking and asking questions by calling them names, belittling them, embarrassing them in front of their peers, making fun of them, avoiding them, stripping them of their positions and either replacing them or driving them out of the agency.”

“Many women have been left in tears, traumatized and feeling vulnerable and isolated,” she added. “Lander’s apology wasn’t just dishonest. This compounded the deep hurt and damage he caused by ignoring these other acts of aggression, harassment and retaliation.

Wallace was demoted by Lander from general counsel to assistant counsel in 2021, though it should be noted that the White House investigation did not find the demotion to be “procedurally improper.”

Biden promised shortly after taking office that he would not tolerate workplace policy violations. Former White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo resigned shortly after Biden’s engagement after reports of an altercation in which he verbally admonished a member of the press.

White House officials confirmed senior leadership met with Lander to “discuss the seriousness of the matter and the president’s expectation that all interactions with staff be conducted with respect,” but declined to comment. any further.

A spokesperson for the OSTP said Politics this “Corrective action has been taken in accordance with the findings of the investigation and that the office will ‘let Eric’s apology to our team speak for itself.’

Lander is a longtime Biden adviser and previously served on the board of the Biden Cancer Initiative. The president specifically praised Lander’s work during the Biden administration’s “Cancer Moonshot” relaunch ceremony.

He is scheduled to appear before the Biomedical Research Subcommittee of the House Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday on an unrelated matter.