Former Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman is one of more than 200 alumni of the George W. Bush administration who signed a statement released Thursday endorsing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. 

Veneman served during Bush’s first term from 2001 to 2005 and then became executive director of UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. She had previously held several senior positions at USDA during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, rising to deputy secretary in 1991. She served as California’s Food and Agriculture secretary from 1995 to 1999.

The statement raises concerns about President Donald Trump’s character and policies, accuses him of mismanaging the COVID-19 crisis and says the nation has “lost our moral compass,” citing the policy of separating children from asylum-seeking parents. 

“We need Joe Biden to restore character, integrity and decency to the White House,” the statement says. “These principles are the cornerstone needed to rebuild a dignified, secure, resilient country. In order to emerge strong and ready to tackle the challenges before us, we must act.” 

Veneman declined comment on her decision to sign the statement. 

Other USDA alumni who signed the statement included Veneman’s communications director and deputy chief of staff from 2001-2003, Kevin Herglotz; and Dawn Riley, chief of staff to Jim Moseley, who served as deputy agriculture secretary under Veneman.

Additional signatories include former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention; Peter Allgeier, a former deputy U.S. trade representative; and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

Interested in more coverage and insights? Receive a free month of Agri-Pulse.

Herglotz, who has a public relations business in California, grew up in Delaware, where Biden was a long-time senator. 

"The Biden’s are good, decent people who truly care about people and our country.  As now a Californian I am also a big supporter of Sen. (Kamala) Harris and extremely excited about the Biden-Harris ticket," he told Agri-Pulse.

"I am personally supporting Joe Biden because I feel strongly that our nation has lost its moral compass and we need a president who can restore decency, who has a strong vision for the future, who can bring our country together and who can lead our nation toward a better tomorrow filled with hope, respect and opportunity for all."