Dr. Hagen was not the Obama administration's first choice to lead FSIS.
The administration also courted Caroline Smith Dewaal, director of food safety
at Center for Science in the Public Interest, a GAP coalition partner. Smith DeWaal
is a food safety expert with 20 years worth of experience working on policy and
food safety issues. DeWaal’s nomination was halted after it was discovered that
she is a registered lobbyist, which goes against the administration's policy
against hiring lobbyists.
GAP’s not taking a side on Hagen with this post, in any way. But GAP, last week as part of a coalition of 13 groups, sent a letter to President Obama asking for a change in the year-old executive order that bans hiring lobbyists. The order lumps together lobbyists for the private sector with those who represent charities and public interest causes – people who don't have any type of financial interest in government policies. This means, that "countless charities that have no actual or perceived financial conflicts of interest are treated as 'collateral damage,' and discouraged from much-needed policy involvement." The coalition believes the order was well-meaning, but ultimately flawed, as it prevents experts such as Smith DeWall, who would have been a fantastic choice, from joining the government and using their expertise to help protect the public.