An aide to Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson blamed election-time politics for a barrage of recent charges that conservative ideology and industry connections are driving appointments to science advisory bodies. Thompson's plan for weathering the storm of criticism is to wait it out, Claude Allen, DHHS deputy secretary, told The Scientist.

"Election cycles come only so often, so we can most of the time avoid these things and stay under the radar screen," Allen said. "When you have an election that is this close, people get partisan." Thompson's appointees had "the highest" professional credentials, he said, adding, "In addition to credentials, we also look for balance in terms of the views that are expressed."

DHHS has authority over some 258 outside advisory boards and panels, and Thompson has been under fire for months, accused along with the Bush administration of stacking the scientific deck...

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