DeSantis Pick for Florida Top Doc 'Created Acrimony' at Former Job: Report

In a background check conducted as part of Joseph Ladapo's nomination for Florida surgeon general, a former supervisor at University of California, Los Angeles wrote that they would not recommend him for the position because of "stress and acrimony" he created among colleagues because of his stances on COVID safety policies and mandates.

Ladapo, nominated in September by Governor Ron DeSantis after serving as an associate professor at UCLA since 2016, has been criticized for his stances on COVID policies, including an appearance in a July 2020 video that promoted several inaccurate claims about COVID and his refusal to wear a mask during an October meeting with a state senator who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

As part of the background check conducted by law enforcement following Ladapo's appointment, an unnamed former supervisor said they would not recommend his appointment for the position of surgeon general, according to the Associated Press.

"No. In my opinion the people of Florida would be better served by a surgeon general who grounds his policy decisions and recommendations in the best scientific evidence rather than opinions," the comments from the supervisor said, first reported Thursday by the USA Today Network in Florida.

The AP also reported that positive comments from other former UCLA colleagues were given to University of Florida officials who were looking into hiring Ladapo and eventually did around the time he was nominated as surgeon general. Those positive comments were echoed by a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health in a statement to Newsweek.

"It's unfortunate that a single comment from a disgruntled supervisor would find facilitating discussions a cause for concern, especially during such an ever-evolving medical landscape," said Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for the Florida Department of Health.

Joseph Ladapo Florida Surgeon General Ron DeSantis
A former supervisor of Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo declined to recommend him to lead the state's health department during a background check, records show. Above, Ladapo gestures as he speaks to supporters and the media before a bill-signing by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on November 18, 2021, in Brandon, Florida. Chris O'Meara/Associated Press File

Redfern said the publication of the supervisor's comments makes it clear that "someone is attempting to smear the Surgeon General ahead of his confirmation hearing rather than sharing a fair depiction," identifying Ladapo's other qualifications including his prior positions at UCLA and New York University and an award given to Ladapo for his "health services and outcomes research."

The report from the former supervisor also stated that their concerns aside, Ladapo "met all of the contractual obligations for the position that he was hired to perform," according to the AP.

The supervisor said the "stress and acrimony" was caused largely by Ladapo's public opinions and op-eds he had written discounting the effectiveness of masks, vaccines, lockdowns and mandates, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

Ladapo was approved by a Senate committee last week following a walkout from Senate Democrats on the committee who said he was not answering their questions and faces another committee hearing next week before he could potentially have a hearing in front of the full state Senate.