House Speaker Paul Ryan appointed a controversial billionaire doctor to a panel that will advise President Trump and his administration on policy regarding health information technology, a Ryan spokeswoman confirmed to Fox News.
Patrick Soon-Shiong, a scientist and oncologist who runs for-profit and nonprofit cancer research organizations, was appointed by Ryan this week to the Health Information Technology Advisory Committee, which was created under the Obama administration.
A Ryan spokeswoman told Fox News Soon-Shiong was an “obvious choice” for the committee, and dismissed a recent report questioning his financial activities.
A Politico investigation asserted that his nonprofit research organization funnels grant money into businesses and not-for-profits controlled by Soon-Shiong himself. The Politico report ultimately prompted an investigation by Utah’s legislative watchdog regarding donations to the University of Utah.
Soon-Shiong denied all claims of wrongdoing.
"I would like to take this opportunity to get something off my chest," said Soon-Shiong on an earnings call this month, referring to parts of the Politico report. "While it's not benefitting to dignify false reporting or to be further distracted by these false claims, I feel it's important for me to address a truly egregious false statement."
Despite the reports, Ryan’s office told Fox News that Soon-Shiong was known for his history in medical innovation, most notably inventing a cancer drug, haNK, which has success in fighting pancreatic cancer, and will be an asset to the panel.
The Health IT Policy Committee was authorized by the 21st Century Cares Act to serve as an advisory board for the administration’s National Coordinator for Health IT on health information technology policy.
According to a Ryan spokeswoman, the panel is comprised of 25 medical and technical experts appointed by various officials and lawmakers. The Health and Human Services secretary, currently Tom Price, is responsible for appointing three members; the Acting Comptroller General of the U.S. appoints 13 members; and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and the speaker and minority leader of the House appoint four members. The remaining five members are appointed by the president.