President-elect Joe Biden's push for a diverse leadership team is welcome and smart.
But it is difficult to grasp why Biden has tapped California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be secretary of health and human services. At a time when the nation faces its worst health crisis in more than a century, it is baffling that Biden would choose an HHS chief with no public health experience.
But concerns about Becerra should extend far beyond the fact that he doesn't have the appropriate background to lead the push against a pandemic that could end up killing a half-million Americans or more. As California's attorney general, he has been a sharp disappointment.
Becerra has continued the ugly tradition of state attorneys general writing grossly misleading ballot language on propositions put before voters. But his lack of principle goes far beyond that. Becerra sought to sabotage one of the most important police reforms of recent years: the Legislature's 2018 vote for a law that mandates that law enforcement agencies make publicly available the discipline records of officers who faced sustained allegations of misconduct.
Not only did Becerra side with police unions' absurd claim that the law only applied to new allegations of misconduct, he threatened to prosecute members of the UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program and its Investigative Studios if they reported details on past and present law enforcement officers who had committed crimes, using information provided by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training after a legal, straightforward public records request.
Becerra's nomination should be seen for what it is: a clear mistake by Joe Biden.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE