James W. Carroll, Jr, of Virginia, will serve as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), putting him at the center of federal efforts to handle the national opioid epidemic. He’s already been serving as the agency’s acting director in the Trump administration.
Carroll earlier worked as Washington counsel for Ford Motor Company and as general counsel of the Ford Motor Company Fund, according to the White House’s April 2018 announcement of his nomination. Carroll was also part of the George W. Bush administration and held positions at the Treasury and Justice departments.
Senate Democrats last year questioned Carroll’s qualifications for serving as drug czar, given the rising use of opioids such as illicit fentanyl and heroin. Past leaders of the ONDCP have brought more direct experience of fighting addiction to the job than Carroll, they said. Obama’s drug czar Michael Botticelli, for example, had been director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
In questioning Trump‘s nominee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Carroll’s experience was “more limited.” Carroll prosecuted drug violations early in his career and worked on Ford’s employee assistance programs, she said.
Carroll defended his nomination, saying that his broad government experience is an asset for a job that crosses into the work of many federal agencies. He said he had worked with local, state, and federal levels of government and had strong ties within the Trump administration.
“The role of the director of ONDCP involves coordinating across the entire government, working closely with the Cabinet members whose mission includes drug control,” Carroll said in a statement to the Judiciary Committee. “My personal relationships with cabinet secretaries and the West Wing team is a resource for ONDCP.”