Cristina V. Beato was named last July as assistant secretary of health, one of the top policy officials at the Department of Health and Human Services. But several discrepancies regarding her credentials still have not been answered.
These include claims that she served as medical attachÃ© at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey, received a master's degree in public health from the University of Wisconsin, "established" an occupational health clinic at the University of New Mexico and published a scientific paper on inert gases.
At several institutions listed on Beato's rÃ©sumÃ©, officials said they could find no evidence of her service, while former colleagues at the University of New Mexico and an affiliated hospital in Albuquerque disputed assertions she made, saying at a minimum she had puffed up her role in several projects.
In January, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, sent Beato a nine-page letter inquiring about the discrepancies.
HHS spokesman Kevin Keane said yesterday that Beato and staff lawyers were "in the process of going back and answering the questions being raised. We're making sure we provide thorough answers." Until then, Keane said, no one from the Bush administration would discuss her nomination.