Martino Exits FDA Amidst Hiring Controversy
The Media Relations Department at any organization is not supposed to be the story. Tell that to Beth Martino, who’s last day as FDA’s controversial associate commissioner of external affairs was April 6.
Officially, Martino is leaving the FDA to work for her old boss at the American Health Care Association (AHCA) as a senior advisor for public affairs. She says the move has nothing to do with her tenure at FDA or the fact that a key staffer under her was forced out by an FDA Inspector General for allegedly illegal hiring practices.
Martino told Politico today (April 7) that her resignation was voluntary. “It’s routine. There’s nothing strange going on behind the scenes. I’ve learned a lot. I think I’ve accomplished a lot. And I think this will help me balance my private life.”
Insiders tell us there are phone and email records showing Martino approved Chitwood’s actions, but neither Martino or Chitwood are talking publicly. It is unclear if the investigation will continue now that Chitwood and Martino are gone from the FDA.
The mood inside the Media Department appears to be mostly upbeat. “We’re celebrating” Martino’s departure this week, an FDAer in the department told us. “We’re relieved. There was a fear she’d last two years like many political appointees do, so we’re happy she’s out after less than one year.”
As we’ve blogged before Martino’s tenure has been marred by accusations of unfair hiring and heavy-handed political operations that downplayed science and transparency in dealing with the media.
Meghan Scott is replacing Martino, and insiders tell us that’s viewed as a positive thing. “Meghan is about the same age as Beth, so this isn’t about age. Meghan is capable and Beth wasn’t,” a former staffer who has worked with both told us.
A downside: Scott was already so busy she was slow to respond to subordinates for direction, and that may get worse now. “She was already overworked,” the staffer said .