The Biden administration threatened Wednesday to remove Dr. Mehmet Oz and Herschel Walker from a federal advisory committee if they didn’t resign, setting the stage for a public fight with two high-profile GOP Senate candidates.
Oz, the celebrity doctor, and Walker, the former football star, were each sent a letter Wednesday asking them to resign from the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition by the end of the day, warning that failure to step down would result in termination, a White House official said. President Donald Trump reappointed Oz and Walker to two-year terms on the committee in December 2020.
The Biden administration doesn’t permit candidates for federal office to serve on boards and commissions, the White House official said.
Oz entered Pennsylvania’s Senate race in November, and Walker announced his candidacy for a Senate seat in Georgia in August.
In a video posted to his Twitter account Wednesday, Oz insisted he would not resign.
“I am beyond grateful to President Trump for appointing me to this very prestigious and important position. I am also grateful to my colleagues on the committee and council, and the amazing accomplishments we were able to achieve. I’ve got no intentions, my friends, of resigning. None,” he said.
“If President Biden wants to politicize health, he’ll have to fire me. Let Americans see how truly petty and political he truly is,” Oz added.
NBC News has reached out to Walker’s campaign for comment.
Earlier Wednesday, the White House announced plans to name the chef José Andrés and the WNBA player Elena Delle Donne as co-chairs of the presidential council, of which Walker has been the chair and Oz has been a member.
In a statement on Twitter, Donne said she was honored by the appointment and the opportunity to serve “alongside someone as generous, kind, and talented” as Andrés.
“I look forward to building awareness around the best ways to take care of our minds and bodies,” she wrote.
Oz and Walker are not the first advisory panel members the Biden administration has asked to step down.
In September, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and former White House budget director Russ Vought were asked to resign from their positions on advisory boards. The move sparked lawsuits from Spicer and Vought.
Kristen Welker contributed.