Conyers: Gupta Unqualified for Surgeon General

Posted January 8, 2009 at 3:00pm

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) on Thursday raised red flags about President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for surgeon general, Sanjay Gupta, and called for a new nominee.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter, Conyers urges Members to sign onto a letter to Obama protesting Gupta’s nomination as surgeon general. He cites concerns that Gupta, who is currently CNN’s chief medical correspondent, lacks the public health experience to do the job.

“Clearly, it is not in the best interests of the nation to have someone like this who lacks the requisite experience needed to oversee the federal agency that provides crucial health care assistance to some of the poorest and most underserved communities in America,” Conyers said.

A Conyers aide said it is unclear if and how many Members are rallying behind Conyers since his letter just went out.

Conyers further espoused his views in a posting on his campaign blog, where he said Gupta “seems like a nice enough guy” but has given “little thought to the serious problems facing our health care system.”

The job of surgeon general requires someone of “serious stature” and “with deep roots in the public health community,” Conyers said.