RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Dr. Colin Greene has been picked to serve as Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s special advisor on Virginia’s opioid response three months after Senate Democrats voted to remove him as the state’s health commissioner.
The Democratic-controlled state Senate blocked Greene’s appointment as the public health chief in February over comments he made in a Washington Post report in which he said there was no “compelling” evidence of racism’s impact on infant and maternal mortality rates and labeled gun violence a “Democratic talking point.”
Like his pick for Virginia’s secretary of natural resources, Andrew Wheeler, Youngkin has brought Greene back as a senior advisor after Senate Democrats rejected his appointment.
The Washington Post first reported Greene’s new role as special advisor Friday.
“As special advisor on opioid response, Dr. Colin Greene will help us combat the fentanyl epidemic in Virginia, work to reduce the number of Virginians dying of overdoses, and execute the administration’s new comprehensive fentanyl-fighting strategy,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said in a statement.
Greene, a former military doctor, served as Lord Fairfax Health District director before overseeing the Virginia Department of Health as commissioner. He was the state’s top health official for a little more than a year before Democrats voted to remove him.
“Dr. Greene is a dedicated health professional whose knowledge of the state and federal health systems and his experience in leading research efforts will help us accomplish these objectives,” Porter continued.
After Greene’s ousting, the Virginia Board of Health held its first meeting without a state health commissioner in place in March because, under state code, the commissioner has to be a physician.
Since then, Youngkin has appointed Dr. Parham Jaberi as acting state health commissioner, but the search for a permanent replacement is ongoing.