Two of Gov. Mike Parson’s top staffers have stepped down. A press release today from Parson’s office says the governor accepted a letter of resignation earlier today from Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director, Dr. Randall Williams. Parson spokeswoman Kelli Jones has confirmed to Missourinet that Chief Operating Officer Drew Erdmann has also quit. No reasons were given for their departures.
“Dr. Williams has been a huge asset to Missouri, especially this past year in dealing with COVID-19,” Governor Parson said. “We greatly appreciate all the work he has done for the people of our state and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
The press release says Parson’s deputy chief of staff, Robert Knodell, will serve as the acting director of the state health department. Knodell has served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Parson since 2017. The governor says over the past year, Knodell has played an integral part in the state’s COVID-19 response efforts and taken a leading role in the vaccine rollout and distribution in Missouri.
“As Deputy Chief of Staff, Robert brings valuable knowledge and leadership experience to our team and the entire state of Missouri,” Governor Parson said. “For more than a year, he has also played a leading role in Missouri’s COVID-19 response efforts, and I am more than confident in him to take over as Acting Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services.”
Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, released a statement about the departure of Williams.
“During his tenure at the Department of Health and Senior Services, Director Williams unethically tracked the menstrual cycles of Missouri women without their knowledge or consent, bungled the implementation of legalized medical marijuana, led the state’s failed response to COVID-19 and routinely refused to answer basic questions from lawmakers. Through it all he somehow managed to keep his job. With his sudden and unexplained resignation, one can’t help but wonder what finally convinced the governor to show him the door,” said Quade.
Williams and Erdmann both came on the Missouri scene in 2017 during the Greitens administration.
Dr. Williams was appointed as the Cabinet Director of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and unanimously confirmed by the Missouri Senate on March 9, 2017.