Catching Up on @StateDept Presidential Appointments – NonCareer Officials

STATE DEPARTMENT

Brian J. Bulatao of Texas, to be an Under Secretary of State for Management | Via 

Mr. Bulatao has served as the chief operating officer of the Central Intelligence Agency since 2017 and as a senior advisor to then-CIA Director Pompeo.  Mr. Bulatao also served for seven years as an officer in the United States Army from 1986 to 1993.  Following his honorable discharge from the military, Mr. Bulatao was the president and chief operating officer of a number of private sector companies, including Thayer Aerospace, Wichita, Kansas, Nefab America, Coppel, Texas, and Niteo Products, Dallas, Texas.  Mr. Bulatao was a distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, receiving his B.S. in 1986.  He received his master of business administration  from Harvard Business School, in 1995.  Mr. Bulatao was the recipient of the CIA Director’s Award for Distinguished Service and was an honor graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School.

On June 18, the WH sent its withdrawal of the nomination of Eric M. Ueland, of Oregon, to be an Under Secretary of State (Management), vice Patrick Francis Kennedy, which was resubmitted to the Senate on January 8, 2018.

Related posts:

 

Tibor Peter Nagy Jr. of Texas, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs | Via 

Ambassador Tibor Peter Nagy, Jr., a retired career member of the Senior Foreign Service, formerly class of Minister-Counselor, served as an American diplomat from 1978 to 2003.  Twice a U.S. Ambassador—to Ethiopia from 1999 to 2002 and to Guinea from 1996 to 1999—he also served as Deputy Chief of Mission three times—in Nigeria from 1993 to 1995, Cameroon from 1990 to 1993, and Togo from 1987 to 1990.  In all, he served eight tours of duty at U.S. Embassies in Africa.  Ambassador Nagy served as Vice Provost for International Affairs at Texas Tech University from 2003 to 2017.  He currently serves as Ambassador-in-Residence, Institute for Peace and Conflict, and Honors College Adjunct Faculty at Texas Tech University, where he teaches about Africa.  Ambassador Nagy was born in Budapest, Hungary, and arrived in the United States as a political refugee in 1957.  He received a B.A. from Texas Tech University and a M.S.A. from George Washington University.  Ambassador Nagy speaks Hungarian and French, and has received numerous awards from the Department of State.

Ellen E. McCarthy of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research | Via

Ms. McCarthy has been president of Noblis NSP since 2016.  She has experience in the intelligence community including service as the chief operating officer of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency from 2013 to 2016.  Before joining NGA, Ms. McCarthy served as president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance from 2009 to 2013.  She was also director of the human capital management office from 2005 to 2009 and the acting director of security within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence from 2003 to 2005.  Ms. McCarthy also served as the  Director of Intelligence Operations, Strategy and Policy for the United States Coast Guard from 1998 to 2003 and an intelligence research specialist for the U.S. Atlantic Command from 1991 to 1998.  Ms. McCarthy earned a B.A. from the University of South Carolina, and she holds a Master’s Degree in public policy from the University of Maryland.  She is the recipient of  a Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, a National Intelligence Superior Service Medal, and a Presidential Rank Award, Meritorious.

R. Clarke Cooper of Florida, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs | Via

Mr. Cooper currently serves as the Director of Intelligence Planning for Joint Special Operations Command’s Joint Inter-Agency Task Force – National Capital Region.  A combat veteran, Mr. Cooper’s active duty assignments include tours with United States Africa Command, Special Operations Command Africa, Joint Special Operations Task Force Trans-Sahara, and Special Operations Command Central.  His background in intergovernmental affairs, foreign policy, counter-terrorism, and rule of law is coupled with his extensive operational experience.  Mr. Cooper’s civilian and military postings include security cooperation and capacity building in Africa, the Levant, and the Middle East.  He served in the Department of State as United States Alternate Representative to the United Nations Security Council and as the United States Delegate to United Nations Budget Committee from 2007 to 2009, Senior Advisor in Near Eastern Affairs Bureau from 2006 to 2007, and Advisor at United States Embassy-Baghdad from 2005 to 2006.  Mr. Cooper earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. The WH announcement omits mentioning Cooper’s tenure as head of Log Cabin Republicans from 2010 to 2012. The Washington Blade notes that under Cooper’s tenure at Log Cabin, the organization oversaw a lawsuit challenging “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and assisted with legislative effort to convince Republicans to vote to repeal the military’s gay ban.

Robert A. Destro of Virginia, to be the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor | Via 

Mr. Destro is a human rights advocate and a civil rights attorney with expertise in elections and employment law.  He is also professor of law and director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America.  Mr. Destro has been on the faculty at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law since 1982 and served as its Interim Dean from 1999 to 2001.  He served a six-year term as Commissioner of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  Mr. Destro’s legal work includes collaboration with the Peace Research Institute Oslo in a fifteen-year dialogue among Muslim, Christian, and Jewish legal, business, and religious leaders in the United States and the Middle East and efforts promoting the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in the Middle East.  He has also served as voting rights counsel for the Ohio Secretary of State and advocated for the First Amendment rights of individuals and organizations.  He earned a B.A. from Miami University, Ohio, and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.  He is an active member of the Bar in Ohio and California.

Denise Natali of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operation | Via

Dr. Denise Natali is the Director for Strategic Research at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National Defense University, where she specializes on the Middle East, Iraq, trans-border Kurdish issues, and post-conflict stabilization.  Prior to joining INSS in January of 2011 as the Minerva Chair, Dr. Natali spent more than two decades researching and working in the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria, and was also engaged in post-conflict relief and stabilization.  She served as the director of cross-border operations for a non-governmental organization in Peshawar, Pakistan, a specialist for the American Red Cross Gulf Relief Crisis Project in Washington D.C., and an information officer for the Disaster Assistance Relief Team, U.S Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in northern Iraq.  From 2005 to 2010, Dr. Natali supported a university start-up and taught at public and private universities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, including the American University of Iraq Sulaimania (AUI-S).  She received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, a M.I.A. from Columbia University and a B. A. from Franklin & Marshall College.  She speaks French and is conversant in Kurdish and Farsi.

John Cotton Richmond of Virginia, to be the Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking at the Department of State | Via

Mr. Richmond is the founder of the Human Trafficking Institute, a nonprofit that works inside criminal justice systems to decimate modern slavery by empowering police and prosecutors to stop traffickers. Previously, he served as the Special Litigation Counsel with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and as a founding member of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit. Additionally, he served as Field Office Director at the International Justice Mission in Chennai, India and is a two time recipient of the Department of Homeland Security’s Outstanding Investigative Accomplishments in Human Trafficking Award. Mr. Richmond earned his B.A. from the University of Mary Washington and J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law.

Robert Charles O’Brien of California, to be the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs | Via 

Robert C. O’Brien, an attorney, diplomat, and author, is a founding partner of Larson O’Brien LLP.  His practice focuses on complex litigation and international arbitration.  Mr. O’Brien has extensive government and private sector experience in national security and foreign policy matters.  He has served as an arbitrator in over twenty international proceedings and been appointed by the Federal courts to serve as a Special Master in over a dozen complex cases.  Mr. O’Brien has been named one of the top 100 lawyers in California and one of the top 500 lawyers in America. Mr. O’Brien was appointed as a Representative to the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, served as Co-Chairman of the Department of State’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2011 and was appointed to serve as a member of the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee in 2008.  He was a senior legal officer with the United Nations Security Council in Geneva, Switzerland from 1996 to 1998.  Mr. O’Brien served as a major in the JAG Corps of the U.S. Army Reserve.  Mr. O’Brien received a B.A. degree from UCLA and a J.D. degree from Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley School of Law.

CHIEFS OF MISSION

Harry B. Harris Jr. of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Korea | Via 

Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr. currently serves as the 24th commander of U.S. Pacific Command.  A highly decorated, combat proven Naval officer with extensive knowledge, leadership, and geopolitical expertise in the Indo-Pacific region, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978 and was designated a naval flight officer in 1979.  He earned a M.P.A. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a M.A. from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and attended Oxford University.  During his 40-year career, he served in every geographic combatant command region, and he has held seven command assignments, including the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the U.S. Sixth Fleet, and VP-46.  He and his wife, Bruni, live in Hawaii.

On May 23, the WH sent to the Senate its withdrawal of Admiral Harris’ nomination to be Ambassador  to the Commonwealth of Australia, which was sent to the Senate on February 13, 2018.

Lynda Blanchard of Alabama, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia | Via 

Ms. Blanchard co-founded 100X Development Foundation in 2004, an organization dedicated to fostering creative solutions to eradicate poverty and improve the lives of children around the world.  Concurrently, she co-founded and is currently senior advisor at B & M Management Company, a real estate investment management company.  Ms. Blanchard has worked in Africa, Asia, and South America, engaging with local partners to further 100X Development Foundation’s mission.  As an advocate for people with special needs for more than 20 years, Ms. Blanchard has voluntarily served on boards of non-profit organizations and supported numerous education programs in Alabama, as well as helped families who are interested in adoption.  She is the mother of seven children, four of which were adopted internationally.  Ms. Blanchard earned a B.S. in mathematics and a minor in computer science from Auburn University.

Christine J. Toretti of Pennsylvania, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Malta | Via

Ms. Toretti is an accomplished businesswoman, philanthropist and civic leader.  She was President and CEO of the S.W. Jack Drilling Company for over two decades.  She has served as vice chair of the Rural Telephone Bank, U.S. Department of Agriculture, as a member of the National Petroleum Council, and on the advisory board for the U.S. Secretary of Energy.  Ms. Toretti was also a director of the Pittsburgh branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.  Ms. Toretti has been Republican National Committeewoman from Pennsylvania since 1997 and founded the Anne Anstine Excellence in Public Service Series and the Dodie Londen Excellence in Public Service Series, to educate, empower and advance women in politics.  She received her B.S. from the University of Virginia.

Ronald Gidwitz of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Belgium  | Via 

Mr. Gidwitz is a partner in GCG Partners and previously led Helene Curtis Industries as President and Chief Executive Officer.  Mr. Gidwitz is also Chicago regional chair of the Business Executives for National Security and, for almost thirty consecutive years, and led three important public institutions; the Chicago Economic Development Commission, the City Colleges of Chicago, and the Illinois State Board of Education.  In addition, Mr. Gidwitz chaired the Illinois Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Workforce Development and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  Mr. Gidwitz earned a B.A. from Brown University, Providence Rhode Island.  He has received numerous honors and awards including the Bertha Palmer Distinguished Civic Leadership Award from the Chicago Historical Society and been named Laureate by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Donald Ray Tapia of Arizona, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica | Via 

Mr. Tapia served as Chairman and CEO of Essco Group Management, the largest Hispanic owned business in Arizona, for over three decades. Mr. Tapia’s philanthropic efforts include serving on the Board of Directors for the Sun Angel Foundation and Endowment at Arizona State University, the Tau Kappa Epsilon Educational Foundation Board of Indianapolis, Indiana, and as Chairman of Board and Trustee at Saint Leo University. Additionally, he served on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix, Teen LifeLine Phoenix, the Advisory Council of the Arizona Animal Welfare League, and the Advisory Board for the Foundation for Blind Children in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Tapia is a U.S. Army veteran and received his B.A. and M.B.A. from Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida, where he was later awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Gordon D. Sondland, of Washington, to be Representative of the United States of America to the European Union, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary | Via 

Gordon D. Sondland is the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Aspen Lodging Group, LLC, d.b.a. Provenance Hotels, in Portland, Oregon.  For almost 15 years Mr. Sondland managed the Aspen Group, an investment fund and he has served on the Advisory Board of U.S. Bancorp for more than a decade.  Additionally, Mr. Sondland was the Senior Republican advisor to the Democratic Governor of Oregon.  He also served as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Portland Art Museum.  Mr. Sondland attended the University of Washington in Seattle, and has maintained an Airline Transport Pilot License since 1978.

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GOP Fundraiser John Rakolta Jr. to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates

Posted: 4:41 am  ET

 

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Trump Formally Nominates Pompeo to be 70th Secretary of State as Tillerson Exits

Posted: 3:14 am  ET

 

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DGHR Nominee Stephen Akard Now Nominated as Director of the Office of Foreign Missions

Posted: 9:52 am  PT
Update: 7:24 pm PT

 

Update: Late on March 20, the White House officially withdrew the nomination of Mr. Akard for DGHR. 

On March 19, the White House announced the nomination of former FSO Stephen Akard to be the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions (with the Rank of Ambassador). The WH released the following brief bio:

Stephen Akard of Indiana, to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions (with the Rank of Ambassador), Department of State.  Mr. Akard has served as a senior advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, U.S. Department of State since January, 2017.  Previously he was Chief of Staff, Vice President and General Counsel, and Director of International Development for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indianapolis, Indiana from 2005 -2017.  Earlier in his career, Mr. Akard was a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State from 1997 – 2005 and had assignments in India, Belgium, and as a special assistant in the Executive Secretariat of the State Department.  He earned his B.A, M.B.A. and J.D. degrees from Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana.  Mr. Akard was honored with several awards while serving in the State Department, including two Meritorious Honor awards, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis in 2000.

Akard was previously nominated as Director General of the Foreign Service and personnel chief of the State Department (DGHR). As far as we can tell, the White House has not withdrawn the DGHR nomination. We are, however, hearing that a new DGHR nominee is in the works but we’re still seeking confirmation.

Akard’s OFM nomination was announced on March 19 together with Joseph Mondello, the nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. Mondello’s nomination was sent to the Senate on March 19 together with five other nominees that does not include Akard’s name, but the public notification is bound to show up at some point.

 

 

Related posts:

 

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Heather Nauert: From Spox to Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Posted: 3:21 am  ET

 

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert assumed her position on April 25, 2017 (see Heather Nauert: From Fox News Channel to State Department Spokesperson). On the same day that Secretary Tillerson and Under Secretary Goldstein (see Steve Goldstein Assumes Charge as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs) were both fired, the White House also publicly designated  Heather Nauert as Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R). Her official bio notes that “She will continue to serve as State Department Spokesperson.”

Ms. Nauert may not get any sleep for the next six months (must see story of the day also has a State/GEC connection). Or if as the White House told a reporter, “Heather is the only one at State we trust” what’s the likelihood that this acting position becomes a permanent appointment subject to Senate confirmation, of course?

She just skipped over her new boss at Public Affairs, and she will be dual-hatted as “R” and as spokesperson until a new nominee is confirmed. How long is that going to take? Goldstein was announced as “R” nominee in September 2017 but did not get through the confirmation process and assume office until December 2017. We have seen PA dual hatted as spox, but we don’t think we’ve ever had an R dual hatted as spox (Margaret D. Tutwiler did serve as R and Public Affairs but not concurrently, though she was dual hatted as PA/spox).

If the online details of the R bureau are current, of the fourteen senior positions currently under Ms. Nauert, five are currently vacant, five are encumbered by career officials, and four are recent political appointments from Trump campaign/connections that include Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michelle Giuda (Gingrich), DAS for Digital Strategy in the Bureau of Public Affairs Len Khodorkovsky (campaign), DAS for Strategic Communications in the Bureau of Public Affairs Adrienne Ross (?) and Senior Advisor for Public Engagement in the Bureau of Public Affairs Kathryn Wellner (campaign).

Six bureaus and offices report to the Acting Under Secretary:Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA-nominee pending)Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP-no nominee announced))Bureau of Public Affairs (PA-filled)Office of Policy, Planning and Resources (R/PPR)Expo Unit (EXPO) and the Global Engagement Center (GEC-no nominee announced).

One senior R adviser who recently left State notes the potential fallout from the Goldstein firing (see The Other Firing At State And What That Means).

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S/P Staffer Kimberly Breier to be Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

Posted: 3:37 am  ET

 

On March 5, The WH announced the nomination of S/P staffer Kimberly Breier to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Kimberly Breier of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Western Hemisphere Affairs), vice Mari Carmen Aponte and to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Foundation (Government Rep), vice Roberta Jacobson. Ms. Breier has served as a member of the Secretary’s policy planning staff at the Department of State since 2017.  She previously served as the Director of the U.S.-Mexico Futures Initiative, Deputy Director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and as Vice President of Peschard Sverdrup International.  Formerly, she served as an analyst and manager in the United States intelligence community for more than a decade and as director for North America and as director for Brazil and the Southern Cone on the National Security Council staff at the White House.  Prior to government service, Ms. Breier served as a senior fellow and director of the National Policy Association’s North American Committee.

She earned a B.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College and a M.A. in Latin American studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.  She has traveled extensively in the Western Hemisphere and speaks Spanish.

According to history.state.gov, the Department of State had first established a Division of Latin American Affairs in 1909. The Department created the position of Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs during the general reorganization of Dec 20, 1944, after Congress had authorized an increase in the number of Assistant Secretaries of State from four to six (Dec 8, 1944; P.L. 78-472; 58 Stat. 798). This reorganization was the first to assign substantive designations to specific Assistant Secretary positions. The position was temporarily discontinued between Jun 1947 and Jun 1949, when American Republic Affairs were handled by an Assistant Secretary for Political Affairs. The Department re-established the position in June 1949 after the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of Government (Hoover Commission) recommended that certain offices be upgraded to bureau level. On Oct 3, 1949, the Department by administrative action changed the incumbent’s designation to Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs.

On January 12, 1999, the Bureau assumed responsibility for Canada and was renamed the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.  If confirmed, Ms Breier would succeed career civil servant Roberta S. Jacobson who served from 2012 until 2016 when she was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Other recent appointees to this position include Otto Juan Reich (2002); Roger Francisco Noriega (2003–2005); Thomas Alfred Shannon Jr. (2005–2009); and Arturo Valenzuela (2009–2011).

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Tillerson’s COS Margaret Peterlin, and D/COS Christine Ciccone to Leave on 3/31

Posted: 2:50 am  ET

 

CNN reported late on March 13 that Tillerson’s chief of staff, Margaret Peterlin, and deputy chief of staff, Christine Ciccone, also submitted their resignations on Tuesday, according to two senior State Department officials. Both are expected to serve until Tillerson leaves on March 31.

 

We wrote about Tillerson’s inner circle at State last June, see Rex Tillerson’s Inner Circle Photo Album, Say Cheese Con Quezo!

Politico’ Nahal Toosi also reported these departures on March 14 and notes that “Many State staffers say the two were widely disliked for severely limiting access to the secretary, sidelining career diplomats and slowing down an already cumbersome decision-making process.” And that’s not an exhaustive list.

We’d like to know what happens to the staffers that Tillerson’s aides brought with them to Foggy Bottom now that they’re leaving. Are they leaving, too? Any personnel conversions to Civil Service or conversions to special government service (SGEs)? Curious minds would like to know.

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Trump Fires Tillerson: Reactions From Around the World

Posted: 4:06 am  ET

 

President Trump finally announced via Twitter the firing of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on 13 Mar 2018, Tuesday at 9:44 AM. Below are some reactions from around the world, with a couple of cartoons thrown in.

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What We Found in Trump’s Drained Swamp: Hundreds of Ex-Lobbyists and D.C. Insiders

–by Derek Kravitz, Al Shaw and Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica

When the Trump administration took office early last year, hundreds of staffers from lobbying firms, conservative think tanks and Trump campaign groups began pouring into the very agencies they once lobbied or whose work they once opposed.

Today we’re making available, for the first time, an authoritative searchable database of 2,475 political appointees, including Trump’s Cabinet, staffers in the White House and senior officials within the government, along with their federal lobbying and financial records. Trump Town is the result of a year spent filing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests; collecting and organizing staffing lists; and compiling, sifting through and publishing thousands of financial disclosure reports.

Here’s what we found: At least 187 Trump political appointees have been federal lobbyists, and despite President Trump’s campaign pledge to “drain the swamp,” many are now overseeing the industries they once lobbied on behalf of. We’ve also discovered ethics waivers that allow Trump staffers to work on subjects in which they have financial conflicts of interest. In addition, at least 254 appointees affiliated with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and at least 125 staffers from prominent conservative think tanks are now working in the federal government, many of whom are on teams to repeal Obama-era regulations.

Drilling down even further, at least 35 Trump political appointees worked for or consulted with groups affiliated with the the billionaire libertarian brothers Charles and David Koch, who also have a network of advocacy groups, nonprofits, private companies and political action committees. At least 25 Trump appointees came from the influential Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank founded in 1973, and at least two came from Heritage Action, its related political nonprofit. Heritage says the Trump administration, in just its first year, has enacted nearly two-thirds of its 334 policy recommendations.

We also found — for the first time — dozens of special-government employees, or SGEs, who work as paid consultants or experts for federal agencies while keeping their day jobs in the private sector. This rare government gig allows them to legally work for both industry and the Trump administration at the same time. Under the Obama administration, Huma Abedin, the longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, benefited from this policy while simultaneously working at the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and a corporate consulting firm, drawing scrutiny from the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Government Accountability Office.

Roughly 60 percent of the Trump administration officials included in our analysis have financial disclosure reports. We have requested these reports for the rest. Since our last update of financial disclosure records in August, we have added 660 such reports from across the government.

We also did a more limited version of this project in 2009, at the start of the Obama administration. As part of this year’s analysis, we compared the number of appointees in the first year of both the Obama and Trump administrations who had been active lobbyists in the two years prior to their nomination for Senate-confirmed government jobs. Even though the Trump administration has lagged significantly behind previous administrations in appointing people for such positions, more Trump appointees were recent lobbyists than Obama appointees: Trump had 18 in his first year, while Obama had 14.

“Focusing on novel scandals alone can distract from the enormous scale of the Trump administration’s embrace of revolving-door hiring,” said Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project at the nonpartisan Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The pipelines between conservative policy think tanks — namely the Heritage Foundation and the Koch Brothers’ Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce — and the Trump administration are clear, as is their effect on federal policy.

Just before Trump took office last January, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, one of the main conservative advocacy groups funded by the Koch Brothers, unveiled a deregulatory wish list. The action plan highlighted 19 Obama-era policies affecting the environment, labor and technology that Freedom Partners wanted gone. “This strategy can help to unravel eight years of regulatory overreach starting immediately,” the organization’s vice president, Andy Koenig, wrote in an accompanying press release.

A few weeks later, Koenig joined the White House as a policy assistant, putting him in a position to implement his former employer’s agenda. Sure enough, just over a year later, the administration has acted on 16 of the 19 suggestions that Freedom Partners listed.

The moratorium on federal coal leases? Lifted. The Paris climate agreement? Withdrawn. The Clean Power Plan? Repealed. The FCC’s net neutrality policy, the EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rules? All reversed.

Freedom Partners and the White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The Trump campaign had a small staff and was light on policy chops, so it leaned heavily on personnel from the Koch network and the Heritage Foundation during the transition. “When you have a president committed to strong deregulatory policy, there’s no better place to figure out what regulations put a stranglehold on the economy than to go to the Koch network and the Heritage Foundation,” said Marc Lampkin, the co-chair of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s lobbying practice and a former aide to House Speaker John Boehner. “It makes perfect sense that they would be part of the intellectual breeding ground for the administration.”

The Heritage Foundation has touted its influence over Trump’s agenda. On Jan. 23, the organization said the Trump administration embraced two-thirds of the 334 policy recommendations in its “Mandate for Leadership,” such as shrinking national monuments in Utah, preventing taxpayer funding for international groups involved in abortion (known as the Mexico City Policy), raising military spending, and withdrawing from UNESCO.

Heritage cited the efforts of about 70 of its former employees working throughout the transition and administration. Our analysis found 28 officials who used to work at the Heritage Foundation and its advocacy arm, Heritage Action.

Not all political appointments are announced. In digging through lists of special-government employees, we found several in key positions in the Trump administration, including Wendy Teramoto, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s chief of staff and a longtime aide at his private equity firm; James D. Ray, a George W. Bush-era staffer who worked as an unpaid consultant at the Department of Transportation while keeping his job as a principal in KPMG’s infrastructure consulting practice; and Leonard Wolfson, who was lobbying on behalf of the Mortgage Bankers Association on Capitol Hill one week before getting paid $64 per hour as an expert at the Department of Housing and Urban Development the next week.

Wolfson’s case is a prime example of the inherent business conflicts in such arrangements: Wolfson is a well-known housing lobbyist among House Republicans and served in the Bush administration at HUD from 2005 to 2008. Senate records show Wolfson was actively lobbying on banking legislation and regulatory issues in April and May.

By mid-May, Wolfson had taken a relatively rare position as an outside “expert” at HUD while he was still employed at the 2,200-member lobbying group. To take the HUD gig, Wolfson took an unpaid leave from the Mortgage Bankers Association. He didn’t fully resign from the group until July 31.

At HUD, Wolfson worked on getting nominees for senior positions at the agency through the backlogged and slow Senate confirmation process, according to HUD officials.

Reached for comment, a HUD spokesman denied there was any conflict. “There was absolutely no overlap,” said Brian Sullivan. “He took one hat off and put another one on.”

His paid government consulting work this past summer was not previously disclosed. And in December, Wolfson himself was appointed and confirmed as HUD’s assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental relations.

We’re releasing Trump Town as a resource for journalists, researchers and the public. Its goal: to increase understanding of who the current administration’s taxpayer-funded decision-makers are and how their work histories and financial holdings might influence public policy.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Office of Special Counsel on Political Inquiries/Political Discrimination During Reassignments

Posted: 12:45 pm PT

 

The Office of Special Counsel who has authority to investigate  5 U.S. Code § 2302 – Prohibited Personnel Practices says that political inquiries of or political discrimination against applicants for career federal jobs are prohibited under the law. Personnel action under this law includes not just appointments but also reassignments, promotions, and reemployments of federal employees. Keep this in your pocket.

Excerpt:

(a)

(1) For the purpose of this title, “prohibited personnel practice” means any action described in subsection (b).

(2) For the purpose of this section—

(A) “personnel action” means—

(i) an appointment;

(ii) a promotion;

(iii) an action under chapter 75 of this title or other disciplinary or corrective action;

(iv) a detail, transfer, or reassignment;

(v) a reinstatement;

(vi) a restoration;

(vii) a reemployment;

(viii) a performance evaluation under chapter 43 of this title or under title 38;

(ix) a decision concerning pay, benefits, or awards, or concerning education or training if the education or training may reasonably be expected to lead to an appointment, promotion, performance evaluation, or other action described in this subparagraph;

(x) a decision to order psychiatric testing or examination;

(xi) the implementation or enforcement of any nondisclosure policy, form, or agreement; and

(xii) any other significant change in duties, responsibilities, or working conditions; with respect to an employee in, or applicant for, a covered position in an agency, and in the case of an alleged prohibited personnel practice described in subsection (b)(8), an employee or applicant for employment in a Government corporation as defined in section 9101 of title 31;

(B) “covered position” means, with respect to any personnel action, any position in the competitive service, a career appointee position in the Senior Executive Service, or a position in the excepted service, but does not include any position which is, prior to the personnel action—

(i) excepted from the competitive service because of its confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character; or

(ii) excluded from the coverage of this section by the President based on a determination by the President that it is necessary and warranted by conditions of good administration;

(C) “agency” means an Executive agency and the Government Publishing Office, but does not include—

(i) a Government corporation, except in the case of an alleged prohibited personnel practice described under subsection (b)(8) or section 2302(b)(9)(A)(i), (B), (C), or (D);

(ii)

(I) the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Reconnaissance Office; and

(II) as determined by the President, any executive agency or unit thereof the principal function of which is the conduct of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence activities, provided that the determination be made prior to a personnel action; or

(iii) the Government Accountability Office; and

(D) “disclosure” means a formal or informal communication or transmission, but does not include a communication concerning policy decisions that lawfully exercise discretionary authority unless the employee or applicant providing the disclosure reasonably believes that the disclosure evidences—

(i) any violation of any law, rule, or regulation; or

(ii) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

(b) Any employee who has authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action, shall not, with respect to such authority—

(1) discriminate for or against any employee or applicant for employment

(A) on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, as prohibited under section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e–16);

(B) on the basis of age, as prohibited under sections 12 and 15 of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. 631, 633a);

(C) on the basis of sex, as prohibited under section 6(d) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 206(d));

(D) on the basis of handicapping condition, as prohibited under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 791); or

(E) on the basis of marital status or political affiliation, as prohibited under any law, rule, or regulation;

(2) solicit or consider any recommendation or statement, oral or written, with respect to any individual who requests or is under consideration for any personnel action unless such recommendation or statement is based on the personal knowledge or records of the person furnishing it and consists of—

(A) an evaluation of the work performance, ability, aptitude, or general qualifications of such individual; or

(B) an evaluation of the character, loyalty, or suitability of such individual;

(3) coerce the political activity of any person (including the providing of any political contribution or service), or take any action against any employee or applicant for employment as a reprisal for the refusal of any person to engage in such political activity;

(4) deceive or willfully obstruct any person with respect to such person’s right to compete for employment;

(5) influence any person to withdraw from competition for any position for the purpose of improving or injuring the prospects of any other person for employment;

(6) grant any preference or advantage not authorized by law, rule, or regulation to any employee or applicant for employment (including defining the scope or manner of competition or the requirements for any position) for the purpose of improving or injuring the prospects of any particular person for employment;

(7) appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position any individual who is a relative (as defined in section 3110(a)(3) of this title) of such employee if such position is in the agency in which such employee is serving as a public official (as defined in section 3110(a)(2) of this title) or over which such employee exercises jurisdiction or control as such an official;

(8) take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action with respect to any employee or applicant for employment because of—

(A) any disclosure of information by an employee or applicant which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences—

(i) any violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or

(ii) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety,if such disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law and if such information is not specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs; or

(B) any disclosure to the Special Counsel, or to the Inspector General of an agency or another employee designated by the head of the agency to receive such disclosures, of information which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences—

(i) any violation (other than a violation of this section) of any law, rule, or regulation, or

(ii) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety;

(9) take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, any personnel action against any employee or applicant for employment because of—

(A) the exercise of any appeal, complaint, or grievance right granted by any law, rule, or regulation—

(i) with regard to remedying a violation of paragraph (8); or

(ii) other than with regard to remedying a violation of paragraph (8);

(B) testifying for or otherwise lawfully assisting any individual in the exercise of any right referred to in subparagraph (A)(i) or (ii);

(C) cooperating with or disclosing information to the Inspector General (or any other component responsible for internal investigation or review) of an agency, or the Special Counsel, in accordance with applicable provisions of law; or

(D) refusing to obey an order that would require the individual to violate a law, rule, or regulation;

(10) discriminate for or against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee or applicant or the performance of others; except that nothing in this paragraph shall prohibit an agency from taking into account in determining suitability or fitness any conviction of the employee or applicant for any crime under the laws of any State, of the District of Columbia, or of the United States;

(11)

(A) knowingly take, recommend, or approve any personnel action if the taking of such action would violate a veterans’ preference requirement; or

(B) knowingly fail to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action if the failure to take such action would violate a veterans’ preference requirement;

(12) take or fail to take any other personnel action if the taking of or failure to take such action violates any law, rule, or regulation implementing, or directly concerning, the merit system principles contained in section 2301 of this title;

(13) implement or enforce any nondisclosure policy, form, or agreement, if such policy, form, or agreement does not contain the following statement: “These provisions are consistent with and do not supersede, conflict with, or otherwise alter the employee obligations, rights, or liabilities created by existing statute or Executive order relating to (1) classified information, (2) communications to Congress, (3) the reporting to an Inspector General of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or (4) any other whistleblower protection. The definitions, requirements, obligations, rights, sanctions, and liabilities created by controlling Executive orders and statutory provisions are incorporated into this agreement and are controlling.”; or

(14) access the medical record of another employee or an applicant for employment as a part of, or otherwise in furtherance of, any conduct described in paragraphs (1) through (13).

This subsection shall not be construed to authorize the withholding of information from Congress or the taking of any personnel action against an employee who discloses information to Congress. For purposes of paragraph (8), (i) any presumption relating to the performance of a duty by an employee whose conduct is the subject of a disclosure as defined under subsection (a)(2)(D) may be rebutted by substantial evidence, and (ii) a determination as to whether an employee or applicant reasonably believes that such employee or applicant has disclosed information that evidences any violation of law, rule, regulation, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety shall be made by determining whether a disinterested observer with knowledge of the essential facts known to and readily ascertainable by the employee or applicant could reasonably conclude that the actions of the Government evidence such violations, mismanagement, waste, abuse, or danger.

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