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Obama names food safety, DEA picks

By Ed O'Keefe

President Obama has tapped two career federal employees to oversee food safety and the Drug Enforcement Agency, the White House announced Monday.

The president will nominate Elisabeth Hagen to serve as undersecretary of agriculture for food safety, which would give her oversight of the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Hagen previously served as a senior executive at the agency and is currently USDA's chief medical officer. She joined the federal government in 2006 after practicing medicine in the private and academic sectors. If confirmed, Hagen will oversee roughly 9,000 food inspectors who visit more than 7,000 sites per day.

Food safety advocates have been calling on the White House to name a food safety undersecretary, a position vacant for more than a year. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said last summer that the administration had faced difficulty finding a candidate due to the administration's ethics rules.

Obama also announced DEA veteran Michele M. Leonhart will be nominated to serve as administrator. She has served for nearly 30 years, most recently as deputy administrator and acting administrator.

Leonhart was DEA's first female special agent in charge and once ran the Los Angeles field division. Before joining DEA, she served with the Baltimore Police Department.

Track all Obama nominees with The Post's Head Count

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 25, 2010; 8:20 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Revolving Door  
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