Eric Lander, the president’s top science adviser and a member of his Cabinet, sent a Friday night email to his roughly 150-person staff apologizing for speaking to colleagues in a “disrespectful and demeaning way.”
“It’s my responsibility to set a respectful tone for our community. It’s clear that I have not lived up to this responsibility,” Lander wrote in an email provided to POLITICO. “This is not only wrong, but also inconsistent with our Safe and Respectful Workplace Policy. It is never acceptable for me to speak that way. I am deeply sorry for my conduct. I especially want to apologize to those of you who I treated poorly or were present at the time.”
Lander heads the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and is leading President Joe Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot,” an initiative aimed at reducing cancer deaths that had its splashy launch event earlier this week.
The email appears to reference an investigation POLITICO has been conducting into Lander’s treatment of staff, which Lander acknowledges in his email. “I understand that some of you have been asked about this, and I thought it was important to write directly to you,” he wrote. “I also realize that my conduct reflects poorly on this Administration, and interferes with our work. I deeply regret that.”
Biden himself declared a zero-tolerance policy for improper conduct on the first day of his administration. He pledged that “if you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot. On the spot. No ifs, ands or buts.”
Lander pledges in his email that “[w]e will take concrete steps to promote a better workplace. We will schedule regular forums to check in with staff on how we are doing in creating and upholding a safe and respectful workplace. We will also ensure that every employee knows how to report conduct that concerns them.”
The White House did not immediately comment on Lander’s email.
Read more: politico.com