Mr. Eric Lander is a top White House expert who quit recently over allegations of workplace bullying.
He’s since been found to have retained huge amounts of stock in COVID-19 vaccine producer BioNTech, while supporting immunizations and not revealing his stakes in the company.
After being confirmed in May 2021, Lander had 90 days to sell his equities. According to Politico, most of his holdings were sold in June; however, the BioNTech stock, worth $500,000 to $1 million, was not sold until August 5.
Eric Lander, the highest ranking White House science official who just resigned, waited 69 days after he was confirmed, almost the statutory maximum, to sell his vaccine-maker BioNTech stock at $404.92, almost the peak value of the Pfizer partner. https://t.co/K7qVdbMA0v
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) February 9, 2022
First FDA-Approved Vaccine
In collaboration with Pfizer’s pharmaceutical company, BioNTech created the first FDA-approved vaccine against COVID-19.
BioNTech shares were trading at $404.92 when Lander sold off the last holdings, increasing more than $50 from the previous two days’ closing price.
Part of his responsibilities as a member of President Biden’s Cabinet, and as the head of the Department of Science and Technology Policy, were to promote the administration’s efforts to get folks inoculated against COVID.
The Boston Globe and Washington Post published op-eds by him. In these pieces, Lander stated, “coronavirus vaccinations can stop the current pandemic if enough individuals safeguard themselves and their loved ones by being vaccinated.”
Officials from the Biden administration contend that Lander’s advocacy of vaccinations during a pandemic does not constitute an ethical breach.
“Your reporting demonstrates that Eric complied with all applicable laws and regulations,” a representative for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy told Politico.
During a worldwide epidemic, “conversations and opinion articles encouraging people to get vaccinated are not even close to being an ethical problem,” says the source.
Nonetheless, government watchdog organizations asserted the White House’s delayed divestiture raises concerns about faults in the administration’s ethical obligations.
For example, Delaney Marsco, senior legal counsel on ethics at the monitoring Campaign Legal Center, stated the scenario appeared to be “unsavory.”
“When there is a pandemic, I don’t believe you have the most senior scientist in the administration involved in a particular vaccine manufacturer.”
Politico quoted Marsco as saying, “It appears to be something he should’ve just divested from right away.”
According to a Wall Street Journal story, Lander, who did not declare his assets to the Boston Globe or the Washington Post, was the richest member of Biden’s Cabinet when he was nominated.
He had more than $45 million in assets at his nomination.
There is a lot of schadenfreude going around tonight on the news of Eric Lander's resignation. Personally, I feel only sadness. https://t.co/4pAgHT46qR
— Lior Pachter (@lpachter) February 8, 2022
After accusations went public that Lander bullied and victimized his subordinates, President Biden accepted Lander’s resignation on Monday, which will take effect on February 18.
The resignation was accepted after a two-month internal review into accusations that he harassed and treated his subordinates unfairly was made public.
“Credible evidence” has been discovered, according to Christina Peele, the White House’s deputy director of management and administration for people.
Lander is accused of creating a “toxic work environment.” His behavior toward employees put him squarely in the sights of President Biden’s commitment to dismissing anyone who abuses their employees.