Biden Taps Anti-Police and Anti-Gun Activist To Lead CDC

Mandy Cohen is the cofounder of Doctors for Obama, which embraced anti-police and anti-gun causes

Mandy Cohen (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
June 2, 2023

President Joe Biden's likely nominee to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cofounded a medical advocacy group that supports a variety of radical left-wing causes.

Mandy Cohen cofounded Doctors for Obama and served as executive director of its spinoff, Doctors for America. The organization, which began as a pro-Obamacare group, in recent years has pushed Congress to ban semiautomatic rifles and treat gun violence as a public health crisis, sided with the anti-police movement, and launched a campaign to "demand [an] anti-racism curriculum in medical institutions."

Cohen's affiliation with the left-wing group could exacerbate what is already expected to be a tough confirmation battle. The Biden CDC has been under intense scrutiny thanks in large part to outgoing chief Rochelle Walensky's support for pandemic quarantines, mask mandates, and school closures. Walensky instituted a ban on evictions, citing the pandemic, that was later struck down by the Supreme Court.

In 2021, Doctors for America endorsed proposals that would defund police departments, including a bill sponsored by Rep. Cori Bush (D., Mo.) to scale "back the role of law enforcement." Doctors for America in 2020 sponsored a report with the left-wing Alliance for Safety and Justice that recommended a reduction in police funding to fund other agencies to deal with "mental health crisis" response. The organization launched a campaign to "demand [an] anti-racism curriculum in medical institutions" and has pushed for a variety of gun control bills.

Doctors for America has endorsed various gun control proposals. The group backed Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D., Calif.) 2013 proposal to outlaw "assault weapons that can accept a detachable ammunition magazine." It urged Congress two years later to permit the CDC to research gun violence and to classify the issue as a "public health epidemic." Republicans largely opposed allowing the CDC to conduct research, saying the federal government would use it to enact further gun control.

Cohen also pushed controversial coronavirus policies as director of the North Carolina Department of Health. In July 2021, she said schools should require kindergarten to eighth-grade students and staff members to "wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status." In August 2020, while donning a mask with the face of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Cohen called masks "one of our strongest tools" to slow the spread of coronavirus.

There is growing evidence that masks are far less effective at stopping viruses and that universal requirements in schools have hindered students' classroom performance.

Cohen served as Doctors for America's executive director through 2011, but she has maintained ties to the group since her departure. Doctors for America hailed Cohen's "legacy" in 2021 after her election to the National Academy of Medicine.

Cohen did not respond to a request for comment.