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May 25, 2017

This Week: Terry Branstad was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be ambassador to China

The Department of Justice named former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel. Appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller is tasked with overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Mueller returns to the FBI from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, where he was partner from 2014 to 2017. Before serving as the FBI’s sixth director from 2001 to 2013, Mueller spent three years as a U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California. Prior to that, he worked at a number of other U.S. attorney’s offices in California and Massachusetts. Mueller earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1966. He went on to graduate with a master’s degree from New York University in 1967. After college, Mueller served in the United States Marine Corps and earned a Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Navy Commendation Medals, and a Purple Heart. He ended his military service after three years to attend the University of Virginia, where he graduated with a law degree in 1973.
 
Terry Branstad was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be ambassador to China by a vote of 82 to 13 on Monday, May 22. Two days later, Branstad resigned as Iowa’s governor to be sworn in as ambassador. He first served as governor of Iowa from 1983 to 1999, and then again from 2011 to 2017, making him the longest-tenured state governor in U.S. history. Branstad was Iowa’s lieutenant governor from 1979 to 1983, was a member of the Iowa House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a law degree from Drake University.
 
James Runcie, the chief operating officer of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid, abruptly resigned late Tuesday, May 23, following a dispute with Secretary Betsy DeVos. Runcie disagreed with an order from Secretary DeVos to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on May 25 to discuss improper financial aid payments. The Department of Education verified Runcie’s departure in a brief statement, which also announced that Matthew Sessa will be serving as acting chief operating officer. Runcie had led the Office of Federal Student Aid since 2011. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

May 18, 2017

This Week: The Senate confirmed Robert Lighthizer to be the 18th United States trade representative

By a vote of 82 to 14, the Senate confirmed Robert Lighthizer to be the 18th United States trade representative. He was sworn in on May 15, 2017. In this role, Lighthizer serves as President Trump’s main advisor, negotiator, and spokesperson on trade. Previously, Lighthizer was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and he also served as a member of the landing team at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) during President Trump’s transition. Lighthizer served as the deputy U. S. trade representative under President Reagan. Lighthizer graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1969 and a law degree in 1973.
 
On Tuesday, May 16, by a vote of 56 to 42, the Senate confirmed Jeffrey Rosen to be deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT).Rosen was most recently a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s Washington, D.C. office. This marks Rosen’s return to DOT—from 2003 to 2006, he served as the agency’s general counsel. From 2006 to 2009, he was general counsel for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Rosen earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and graduated with a law degree from Harvard in 1982.
 
President Trump nominated Mark Green to be administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Green is currently the president of the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit organization which promotes democracy worldwide. He served as ambassador to Tanzania under President George W. Bush from 2007 to 2009. From 1999 to 2007, Green represented Wisconsin’s 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin. 

 

 

 

 

 

May 11, 2017

This Week: James Comey was fired as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by President Donald Trump

James Comey was fired as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by President Donald Trump this week. Comey was appointed director in September 2013 by former President Obama. He was general counsel and senior vice president at Lockheed Martin from 2005 to 2010 and general counsel at Bridgewater Associates from 2010 to 2013. Before that, Comey served as the deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice (DOJ) from 2003 to 2005. FBI directors are appointed for a term of 10 years; he served for less than four years. Stepping in as acting director is Andrew McCabe, who has served as the deputy director for the Bureau since January 2016. Before that, he held a number of positions at the FBI, including in the Counterterrorism Division and the National Security Branch. McCabe earned his bachelor’s degree from Duke University and his law degree from Washington University.
 
Heather Wilson was confirmed by the Senate to be secretary of the United States Air Force. The vote, 76 to 22, took place on the evening of May 8th. Wilson graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and served in the Air Force from 1982 to 1989 before retiring as a captain. She went on to represent New Mexico's 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1998 to 2009. She replaces Lisa Disbrow, who served as acting secretary. In other Defense Department news, President Trump's second choice for secretary of the Army, Mark Green, withdrew his nomination.
 
Scott Gottlieb was confirmed by the Senate to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by a vote of 57 to 42. Previously, Gottlieb was a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studied the FDA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He also served as a clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine and as a member of the Department of Health and Human Service’s Health Information Technology Policy Committee. During President George W. Bush’s administration, Gottlieb served as the FDA’s deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs. He has a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 4, 2017

This Week: R. Alexander was sworn in as secretary of labor 

R. Alexander Acosta was sworn in as secretary of labor after being confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 60 to 38. Acosta had been the dean of Florida International University College of Law since 2009. He previously served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida from 2006 to 2009, assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice (DOJ) from 2003 to 2006, and a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from 2002 to 2003. Acosta has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. President Trump’s first choice for secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination amidst criticism from members of both parties.
 
Jay Clayton was confirmed by the Senate to be the chair of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Clayton is currently a co-managing partner of the General Practice/Corporate Law Group at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Before that, Clayton clerked for Judge Marvin Katz on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 1993 to 1995. He earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Cambridge, as well as a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Clayton will be replace acting chair Michael Piwowar.
 
President Trump announced his intent to appoint Thomas DiNanno to be assistant administrator for the Grant Programs Directorate at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). DiNanno served as a member of the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Agency Landing Team and, from 2004 to 2007, was deputy assistant secretary for the DHS’s Office of Infrastructure Protection. Before that, he was special assistant to the chief of staff at DHS. DiNanno graduated from Middlebury College with a bachelor’s degree and earned master’s degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

 

 

April 27, 2017

This Week: President Donald Trump appointed Randolph "Tex" Alles as the 25th director of the United States Secret Service

President Donald J. Trump appointed Randolph “Tex” Alles as the 25th director of the United States Secret Service (USSS). Alles comes to the Secret Service from United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), where he most recently served as acting deputy commissioner. He has held other notable CBP leadership roles, including acting executive assistant commissioner for enterprise services from 2016 to 2017 and executive assistant commissioner for air and marine operations from 2013 to 2016. Before joining CBP, Alles was director for strategic planning and policy at U.S. Pacific Command and had a 35-year career in the United States Marine Corps. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and earned his master’s from the Naval War College.
 
President Trump also announced his intent to nominate people to fill two key positions at the Department of Health and Human Services—Brett Giroir as assistant secretary for health, and Elinore McCance-Katz as assistant secretary for mental health and substance abuse at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Giroir has served as president and chief executive officer of ViraCyte, LLC since November of 2016. He is a scientific advisory board member for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program and chairs the Veterans Choice Act Blue Ribbon Panel. He previously served as director of the Defense Sciences Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Authority, vice chancellor for the Texas A&M University System, and chief executive officer of the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Giroir received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.  McCance-Katz is the chief medical officer of the State of Rhode Island’s Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University. If nominated and confirmed, it will mark McCance-Katz’s return to SAMHSA; she previously served as the agency’s first chief medical officer from 2013 to 2015. McCance-Katz graduated from the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine and earned a doctorate from Yale University.
 
Sonny Perdue was sworn in as secretary of the Department of Agriculture after being confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 87 to 11. Perdue served as governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011. Prior to that, he served in the Georgia State Senate from 1990 to 2002. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Perdue was a member of President Trump’s Agriculture Advisory Committee. In 2011, he was an advisor to Tm Pawlenty’s presidential campaign, after initially supporting Newt Gingrich. Purdue earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia in 1971. 

 

 

 

 

 

April 20, 2017

This Week: New director of the Selective Service System

Donald “Don” M. Benton was sworn in on April 13th as the 13th director of the Selective Service System. Benton represented the 17th legislative district in the Washington State Senate from 1997 to 2017 and was the deputy majority leader from 2013 to 2017. He also served as a senior White House advisor at the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Benton served two terms on the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees while attending the College of the Canyons to earn an associate’s degree. After graduating, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University. In 1994, Benton was elected to the Washington House of Representatives, where he served until 1997.
 
President Trump announced his intent to fill two key positions at the Export-Import Bank, an agency that he once pledged to eliminate. His pick for president and chairman of the Bank is Scott Garrett, a Republican who represented New Jersey’s 5th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2003 to 2017. Garrett has a bachelor’s degree from Montclair University and a law degree from Rutgers University. Spencer Bachus, another former Republican member of Congress, will be nominated to fill a seat on the Bank’s board. Bachus represented Alabama’s 6th congressional district from 1993 to 2015. Bachus has a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and a law degree from the University of Alabama.

 

 

 

 

April 13, 2017

This Week: President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Dr. Mark E. Green to be secretary of the army

President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Dr. Mark E. Green to be secretary of the army. Green currently serves as Tennessee state senator for District 22, and chairman and chief executive officer of Align MD.  He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1986 and went on to be an officer for the United States Department of the Army. Green served in various positions—rifle platoon leader, scout platoon leader, battalion personnel officer, supply officer, airborne rifle company commander— before receiving a medical degree from Wright State University in 1999. He completed three combat tours serving as the flight surgeon for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and authored “A Night With Saddam,” which details Green’s encounter with Saddam Hussein during Operation Red Dawn. Green’s military career ended in 2006. He founded the Align MD Foundation and served as president and chief executive officer of Align MD until becoming senator in 2012. He rejoined in 2016.
 
President Trump also announced his intent to nominate John Sullivan to be deputy secretary at the Department of State. Sullivan is a partner at the law firm Mayer Brown LLP. He served in multiple roles during President George W. Bush’s administration, including deputy secretary of commerce from 2008 to 2009, general counsel at the Department of Commerce from 2005 to 2007, and deputy general counsel at the Department of Defense from 2004 to 2005. President Trump initially announced his intent to nominate Sullivan to be general counsel for the Department of Defense. If confirmed, Sullivan will serve in dual roles as the deputy secretary and as the deputy secretary for management and resources. He has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a law degree from Columbia University.

 

 

 

 

 

April 6, 2017

This Week: Elaine Duke was confirmed by the Senate to be deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Elaine Duke was confirmed by the Senate to be deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by a vote of 85 to 14, becoming the only Senate-confirmed deputy secretary serving in the Trump administration. Duke has previously served in a variety of positions at the department. She was under secretary for management from 2008 to 2010 and deputy under secretary for management from 2007 to 2008. She has also served as chief procurement officer for the department as well as deputy assistant administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a component of DHS. Before joining the department, Duke was the director of the Office of Contract Policy at the Naval Sea Systems Command. Duke earned her Bachelor of Science from New Hampshire College and her Master of Business Administration from Chaminade University.
 
President Trump announced his intent to nominate Dan Brouillette to be deputy secretary at the Department of Energy. Brouillette is senior vice president for government and industry relations at the financial services firm USAA. He was a member of Louisiana’s State Mineral and Energy Board from 2013 to 2016. Previously, Brouillette was vice president for government affairs at Ford Motor Company from 2004 to 2006. During President George W. Bush’s administration, he served as assistant secretary of energy for congressional and intergovernmental affairs from 2001 to 2003.
 
The Senate received Heath P. Tarbert’s nomination to be the Department of Treasury’s next assistant secretary for international markets and development. Tarbert has been a partner at Allen & Overy LLP since 2014, and previously served as a senior counsel at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP before becoming partner in 2012. His government experience includes positions such as special counsel on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs from 2009 to 2010, associate counsel to the president in the White House Counsel’s Office from 2008 to 2009, and law clerk for the Supreme Court of the United States from 2007 to 2008. Tarbert attended Mount St. Mary’s College for his undergraduate degree, received two law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and obtained a master’s and a doctorate degree from Oxford University.
 
Also at Treasury, Sigal P. Mandelker’s nomination to be under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes was sent to the Senate. Mandelker is a partner at Proskauer Rose LLP’s White Collar Defense & Investigations Group. From 2006 to 2009, she was the deputy assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. Some of Mandelker’s other stints include counselor at the department of homeland security and assistant U.S. attorney forthe Southern District of New York. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1993 and earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997.

 

 

 

 

 

March 30, 2017

This Week: The Trump Administration announced the establishment of the White House Office of American Innovation (OAI)

The Trump Administration announced the establishment of the White House Office of American Innovation (OAI). This new office will collaborate with career government officials and the private sector to make recommendations to President Trump on policies to improve government operations and services, improve the quality of life for Americans, and create jobs. The office will be headed by Jared Kushner, the senior advisor to the president and Trump’s son-in-law, and will be made up of other senior White House staff. Those staffers include: Andrew Bremberg, assistant to the president for domestic policy; Gary Cohn, assistant to the president for economic policy; Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives; Hope Hicks, assistant to the president and director of strategic communications; Christopher Liddell, assistant to the president and director of strategic initiatives; Stephen Miller, assistant to the president and senior advisor to the president for policy; Joshua Pitcock, assistant to the president and chief of staff to the vice president; Rob Porter, assistant to the president and staff secretary; Dina Habib Powell, assistant to the president and senior counselor for economic initiatives; Reince Priebus, assistant to the president and chief of staff.
 
President Trump has chosen Dr. Scott Gottlieb, whose nomination was sent to the Senate on Monday, as the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Gottlieb is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies the FDA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He also serves as a clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine and as a member of the Department of Health and Human Service’s Health Information Technology Policy Committee. Gottlieb was previously the FDA’s deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs during President George W. Bush’s administration, and a member on President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services Agency Landing Team. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and graduated with a medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
 
David Friedman was confirmed by the Senate to be ambassador to Israel by a vote of 52 to 46.  Friedman, who served on President Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee during the campaign, was a founding partner at the law firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP, where he specialized in bankruptcy law. He has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a law degree from New York University. President Trump also nominated William Hagerty to be ambassador to Japan. Hagerty is a businessman who served as Tennessee’s Commissioner of Economic Development from 2011 to 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from Vanderbilt University.

 

 

 

 

 

March 23, 2017

This Week: President Trump announced his intent to nominate David Glawe to serve as under secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security

President Trump announced his intent to nominate David Glawe to serve as under secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In this capacity, he will be responsible for delivering intelligence and information to state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners in order to keep the nation safe. Glawe is currently the assistant commissioner in the Office of Intelligence at United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and recently served as acting under secretary for intelligence and analysis, the position he is being nominated for. Earlier in his career, Glawe served as deputy national intelligence manager for threat finance and transnational organized crime at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and as a counterterrorism special agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa. President Trump also designated Rear Admiral Robert Hayes of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to serve as under secretary while Glawe’s nomination works its way through the Senate. Hayes currently serves as the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for intelligence.
 
President Trump also announced his intent to nominate people to serve in several top positions at the Department of Defense, including his choice for deputy secretary, Patrick Shanahan. Shanahan is currently the senior vice president for supply chain and operations at The Boeing Company. Previously, he was the senior vice president for airplane programs at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington, and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. President Trump’s choice for the Department of the Army’s general counsel is Ryan Newman, who is currently the acting assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice. He was the chief counsel to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) from 2014 until early 2017. From 2011 to 2012, Newman was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. He is a former Army Captain and served in Iraq in 2003. Newman has a bachelor’s degree from West Point and a law degree from the University of Texas.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

March 16, 2017

This Week: President Trump made a number of new nominations this week

The Senate confirmed two more of President Trump’s nominations this week as Dan Coats became the new director of national intelligence and Seema Verma became the new administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Coats served as a U.S. senator from Indiana from 2011 to 2017 and also from 1989 to 1999. He also served as ambassador to Germany in between his two stints in the Senate. Verma, the new administrator of CMS, previously served as the chief executive officer of a health policy consulting firm she founded and also worked as a director at The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Verma earned her master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins.
 
President Trump also made a number of new nominations this week. Notably, he selected James Donovan, currently a managing director at Goldman Sachs, to serve as the deputy secretary of the Treasury and Eric Hargan, a shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, to serve as the deputy secretary of Health and Human Services. Trump also announced his intent to nominate J. Christopher Giancarlo to serve as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Giancarlo, who has been a commissioner since 2014, has been serving as acting chairman since the new administration was sworn-in on January 20. Trump also nominated two under secretaries at the Department of the Treasury. David Malpass was selected to serve as under secretary for international affairs and Sigal Mandelker was selected to serve as under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

March 9, 2017

This Week: Rick Perry was sworn in as the secretary of energy after being confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 62 to 37

On March 2, another Trump cabinet pick was sworn in as retired neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin “Ben” S. Carson Sr. became the 17th secretary of housing and urban development. Dr. Carson headed the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at John Hopkins Children’s Center from 1984 to 2013 and unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in the 2016 presidential election, ultimately joining the then President-elect’s Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee as vice chair. Dr. Carson received his bachelor’s degree from Yale in 1973 and graduated with a medical degree from the University in Michigan in 1977.
 
Rick Perry was sworn in as the secretary of energy after being confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 62 to 37. Perry has run for president twice, in 2012 and 2016, and called for the elimination of the Department of Energy during his 2016 campaign, a position he expressed regret for during his confirmation hearing. Perry served as the governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015 and as lieutenant governor from 1998 to 2000. Prior to that, he was Texas’s agricultural commissioner from 1991 to 1999 and a state representative from 1985 to 1991. He also served in the U.S. Air Force from 1972 to 1977 before leaving as a Captain and becoming a cotton farmer. Perry graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University in 1972.

 

 

 

 

March 2, 2017

This Week: Ryan Zinke joins the Department of the Interior as its 52nd secretary

President Trump’s Cabinet continues to fill out as Ryan Zinke was confirmed to be secretary of the interior and Wilbur Ross was confirmed to be secretary of commerce. Zinke joins the Department of the Interior as its 52nd secretary after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2015. While in the House, he served on the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Natural Resources. Before that, Zinke was a Montana state senator from 2009 to 2013 and the deputy and acting commander of the Combined Joined Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula from 2004 to 2006. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon and master’s degrees from National University and the University of San Diego.
 
Wilbur Ross, the new secretary of commerce, is a wealthy investor who was the executive managing director of Rothschild Inc. from 1976 to 2000.  Until recently, he was the chairman and chief strategy officer of the private equity firm WL Ross and Co., which he founded in 1997. Ross has a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and an M.B.A from Harvard University. The Trump administration has stated that one of Ross’s main focuses will be rebalancing the trade system and protecting U.S. workers and companies.

 

 

 

 

February 23, 2017

This Week: President Trump Selected Lieutenant General Herbert "H.R." McMaster to serve as assistant to the president for national security affairs

R. Alexander Acosta is President Trump’s new pick to be secretary of labor after Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination amidst criticism from members of both parties. Acosta comes to the Department of Labor from Florida International University College of Law, where he’s been dean since 2009. He previously served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida from 2006 to 2009, the Department of Justice’s assistant attorney general for civil rights from 2003 to 2006, and a member of the National Labor Relations Board from 2002 to 2003. Acosta earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
 
President Trump selected Lieutenant General Herbert “H.R.” McMaster to serve as assistant to the president for national security affairs after Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn resigned from the post last week. McMaster comes to the White House after serving as director for the Army Capabilities Integration Center and deputy commanding general for futures from 2014 to 2017. Prior to that, he served as commander of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence from 2012 to 2014. He has stated that he intends to remain on active duty while serving in his new role. McMaster graduated from West Point and received his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
 
Scott Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a vote of 52 to 46, with Susan Collins (R-ME) being the only Republican senator to vote against his confirmation. Pruitt had served as Oklahoma’s attorney general since 2011 and was an Oklahoma state senator from 1998 to 2006. Pruitt is a longtime critic of the EPA and was involved in numerous lawsuits challenging EPA regulations during the Obama Administration. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College in 1990 and a law degree from the University of Tulsa in 1993.

 

 

 

 

February 16, 2017

This Week: Michael Flynn resigned as President Trump's national security advisor

Michael Flynn resigned as President Trump’s national security advisor after media revelations that he discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States prior to Trump taking office, and then failed to properly disclose those discussions with other top White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence. Flynn’s resignation comes less than a month after he started his position as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. He previously served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and commander for the Joint Functional Component for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and chief of intelligence for U.S. Central Command. After Flynn’s resignation, Lt. General Joseph “Keith” Kellogg, Jr. was named the acting national security advisor. Kellogg previously worked on Trump’s transition team and also served as the director of the Command, Control, Communications, and Computers directorate under the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. Kellogg received a bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University and his master’s from the University of Kansas.
 
Dr. David Shulkin was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA.) Shulkin had been serving as the under secretary of health at VA since 2015, and was responsible for leading the Veterans Health Administration. From 2010 to 2015, Shulkin was president of the Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. Prior to that, he was the president and chief executive officer of the Beth Israel Medical Center and the chief medical officer at Temple University. Shulkin has a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College and a medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. 
 
Steven Mnuchin was confirmed as the Secretary of the Treasury in a vote of 53 to 47. Previously, Mnuchin was a co-founder, co-chief executive officer and chairman at Dune Capital Management LP. He served as President Trump’s finance chairman during the general election. In 2004, Mnuchin co-founded OneWest Bank Group N.A., formerly IndyMac, and served as its chairman and chief executive officer. He graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in 1985.
 
Linda McMahon was confirmed as Administrator of the Small Business Administration in a vote of 81 to 19. McMahon was previously a member of the International Advisory Council at APCO Worldwide, Inc. She is best known for co-founding World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. with her husband Vince McMahon, and she served as its chief executive officer from 1997 to 2009. She twice ran unsuccessfully to represent Connecticut in the United States Senate, once in 2010 and again in 2012. McMahon also served on the State Board of Education for Connecticut from 2009 to 2010. She has a bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University.

 

 

 

 

February 9, 2017

This Week: Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate to be Secretary of Education

Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate to be Secretary of Education. The vote was 51 to 50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote. The Vice President later officiated at her swearing-in ceremony. DeVos was the Chairman of the American Federation for Children, and served as a board member of The Philanthropy Roundtable and the American Enterprise Institute. DeVos has a long history of donating to Republican campaigns and served as the Chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000 and from 2003 to 2005. She has a bachelor’s degree from Calvin College.
 
Gina Haspel has been selected to be the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and has served in several roles, including Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service, currently known as the Directorate of Operations, and Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action. She previously served as Chief of Staff to Jose Rodriguez while he was the Director of the National Clandestine Service.
 

 

 

 

February 2, 2017

This Week: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired by President Trump

On January 31st, Elaine Chao was confirmed and sworn in as the 18th Secretary of Transportation. In a vote of 93 to 6, Chao became President Trump’s fifth cabinet pick to be confirmed. She previously served as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation from 1989 to 1991 before becoming the Peace Corps Director from 1991 to 1992. In addition, Chao was President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America from 1992 to 1996 and Secretary of Labor during President George W. Bush’s administration. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College and graduated from Harvard University with a master’s degree.
 
Rex Tillerson was confirmed as Secretary of State by the Senate in a vote of 56 to 43. Tillerson was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ExxonMobil from 2006 until the end of 2016.  He first joined Exxon in 1975 as a Production Engineer and spent his entire private sector career with the company, which later became ExxonMobil. Tillerson was the President of the Boy Scouts of America from 2010 to 2012. He served on the board of the American Petroleum Institute and was a member of the National Petroleum Council. Tillerson has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
 
After serving for only ten days, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired by President Trump this week after she ordered Department of Justice officials not to defend his executive order banning travel from seven countries and suspending the United States’ refugee system for 120 days. Sally Yates was replaced by Dana Boente, who will lead the Department until Senator Jeff Sessions’ Attorney General nomination is confirmed by the Senate. Boente has served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2015 and previously acted in that position from 2013 to 2015. Before that, he served as the First Assistant U.S. Attorney for Virginia’s Eastern District from 2009 to 2015.
 
On the same evening that Yates was fired, President Trump replaced the acting head of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for enforcing the country’s border control and immigration laws. Daniel Ragsdale was replaced by Thomas Homan, who became the new Acting Director. Ragsdale has served as Deputy Director since 2012 and has returned to that role. Homan served as the Executive Associate Director of the Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations prior to becoming Acting Director. President Trump has yet to nominate a director for ICE. 

 

 

 

January 26, 2017

This Week: Retired Marine Corps General John F. Kelly was sworn in as the Secretary of Homeland Security

On January 20, 2017, the Senate confirmed two of President Trump’s cabinet secretaries: retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as the 26th Secretary of Defense and retired Marine Corps General John Kelly as the fifth Secretary of Homeland Security. With a vote of 98 to 1, Mattis became the first of President Trump’s nominees to be confirmed. Prior to his nomination, Mattis served as the Hoover Institution’s Davis Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow and sat on the Boards of Directors of General Dynamics Corporation and the Center for a New American Security. Mattis returns to the Department of Defense after retiring from military service in 2013. From 2010 to 2013, he served as the Commander of the U.S. Central Command after heading the U.S. Joint Forces Command from 2007 to 2010. Mattis earned his bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University and graduated from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the National War College.
 
Retired Marine Corps General John F. Kelly was sworn in as the Secretary of Homeland Security and is now in charge of the government’s third largest department. Kelly served in the military for 45 years and has held various positions, including Deputy Commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force from 2007 to 2008 and Commander of the Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North from 2008 to 2011. In addition, he served as Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense from March 2011 to October 2012. Kelly was most recently the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command from 2012 to 2016. He graduated from the National War College in 1995 and also served as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council at the Department of Homeland Security from 2016 to 2017.
 
Also on Monday, after the inauguration, Mike Pompeo was confirmed and sworn in as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pompeo most recently represented Kansas’s 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017. His notable committee assignments included the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Prior to joining Congress, Pompeo was President of Sentry International from 2006 to 2010. He also founded Thayer Aerospace, where he worked as Chief Executive Officer from 1996 to 2006. Pompeo graduated first in his class from West Point and went on to serve as a Cavalry Officer from 1986 to 1991. He then obtained his law degree from Harvard University in 1994, where he served as Editor of the Harvard Law Review.
 
Nikki Haley was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Haley comes to the Department of State after serving as the Governor of South Carolina since 2011. She was a Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2005 to 2010 and, prior to that, was an Accounting Supervisor at FCR, Inc. Haley served on the boards of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce and the Lexington County Chamber of Commerce. She has a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University.
 
 
 
 
 

January 19, 2017

This Week: Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, January 20th

Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, January 20th. He enters the White House with all 15 of his Cabinet Secretaries up for confirmation in the U.S. Senate, announcing his selection of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to be Secretary of Agriculture on Thursday. In an effort to keep his campaign promises, President Trump has created the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, which is tasked with helping bring back jobs to the United States. He also established the White House National Trade Council, which will advise him on trade negotiations and manufacturing issues. Prior to taking office, President Trump announced over 40 appointments to White House positions, including Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist and Counselor, Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff, Kellyanne Conway as Counselor to the President, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner to be Senior Advisor to the President. He has named one Deputy Secretary, Todd Rickets at the Department of Commerce, and has selected Vincent Viola to be Secretary of the Army.
 
President Trump also announced that Reed Cordish will be serving as Assistant to the President for Intragovernmental and Technology Initiatives and that Christopher P. “Chris” Liddell will lead President Trump’s Strategic Development Group as the Assistant to the President of Strategic Initiatives. Cordish, who has no government experience, is a family friend of President Trump’s. He was introduced to his wife, Margaret Katz, by Ivanka Trump. He a Principal and Partner of The Cordish Companies, a real estate development company, and is President of Entertainment Consulting International, a hospitality consulting company. He has a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. Liddell has served as Chief Financial Officer at various companies, including Microsoft from 2005 to 2009, the International Paper Company, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC, and General Motors Company from 2010 to 2011. He also served as the Executive Director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign transition team. Liddell graduated from Auckland University in New Zealand with a Bachelor of Engineering and earned his Master of Philosophy from Oxford University. 
 
 
 
 
 

January 12, 2017

This Week: President-Elect Trump announced the appointment of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to be Senior Advisor to the President

Dr. David Shulkin was selected by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs, replacing outgoing Secretary Robert McDonald. Since 2015, Shulkin has led the Veterans Health Administration, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as the Under Secretary for Health. From 2010 to 2015, Shulkin was President of the Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. Prior to that, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Beth Israel Medical Center and the Chief Medical Officer at Temple University. Shulkin earned his bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College and his medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. This announcement leaves the Department of Agriculture as the only federal department without a Trump nominee.
 
President-elect Trump also announced the appointment of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to be Senior Advisor to the President.  Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump, will begin his new role on January 20, 2017.  He plans to resign from the management positions he holds, including Chief Executive Officer of Kushner Companies and Publisher of The Observer, to avoid conflicts of interest after he enters the White House.  Kushner played a major role in Trump’s presidential campaign and has continued to be influential during Trump’s transition to the White House. 
 
In addition, President-elect Trump announced his intent to nominate Dan Coats to be the Director of National Intelligence. Coats has served as a U.S. Senator representing Indiana twice, from  2011 to 2017 and from 1989 to 1999. He was the U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005. After that, Coats was Senior Counsel at the law firm King & Spalding LLP from 2005 to 2009. He has a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in Illinois and a law degree from the University of Indiana.
 

 

 

January 5, 2017

This Week: President-Elect Trump Continues with nominations and appointments

President-elect Donald Trump announced a number of White House appointments this past week, starting with three Deputy Chiefs of Staff. Katie Walsh, currently Chief of Staff at the Republican National Committee, will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff to the White House. Rick Dearborn, currently Chief of Staff to Senator Jeff Sessions and Executive Director of the President-Elect’s Transition Team (PTT), will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Implementation. And Joe Hagin, former staffer to President Ronald Reagan and both President Bushes, will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.
 
Trump also made the following appointments: Marc Short as Assistant to the President and Director of Legislative Affairs, John DeStefano as Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Personnel, Omarosa Manigault as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, Josh Pitcock as Assistant to President and Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Keith Schiller as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Oval Office Operations, George Gigicos as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Advance, Jessica Ditto as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Communications Director, Raj Shah as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Communications Director and Research Director, Bill Stepien as Deputy Assistant to the President and Political Director, Jen Pavlik as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice President, and John McEntee as Special Assistant to the President and Personal Aide to the President.
 
The president-elect also announced his intent to nominate Jay Clayton to be the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission andRobert Lighthizer to be the U.S. Trade Representative. Clayton is a partner at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LP, where he focuses on mergers and acquisitions as well as regulatory issues. He has bachelor’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Cambridge, and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Lighthizer is an International Trade Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. He served as Deputy Trade Representative to President Ronald Reagan and was Vice Chairman of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Lighthizer graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1969 and a law degree in 1973.

 

 

 

December 29, 2016

This Week: President-Elect Trump Continues with nominations and appointments

President-elect Donald J. Trump announced Jason Greenblatt to be his Special Representative for International Negotiations. Greenblatt, who has worked for Trump since 1997, is the Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President at the Trump Organization, LLC.  During the presidential campaign, he served as the Co-Chair for Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee. Greenblatt graduated from the New York University School of Law in 1992.
 
President-elect Trump also named Thomas Bossert to be Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Bossert previously served as the Deputy Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. Prior to that, he was the Director of Infrastructure Protection Policy at the Homeland Security Council and the Deputy Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate. Bossert earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and his doctorate from The George Washington University.
 
Lastly, Kellyanne Conway was selected to be Counselor to the President. In this position, Conway will work with Trump’s administration to create effective rhetoric and communication strategies. Conway is the President and Chief Executive Officer at the Polling Company, Inc. She is also a Senior Advisor on the President-Elect’s Transition Team. Conway graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 1989 from Trinity College and obtained her doctorate from the George Washington University in 1992.

 

 

 

December 22, 2016

This Week: President-Elect Trump Continues with nominations and appointments

This week, President-elect Trump announced that U.S. Representative Mick Mulvaney will be nominated to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House. Mulvaney has represented South Carolina in the House of Representatives since 2011 and currently sits on the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He is Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Healthcare, Benefits, and Administrative Rules and the Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade. Prior to being a U.S. Representative, Mulvaney was a State Senator in the South Carolina Senate from 2009 to 2011 and a State Representative in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2007 to 2008. He previously was a founding partner at Mulvaney and Fisher and an Attorney at James, McElroy & Diehl. He received his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and his law degree from the University of North Carolina.
 
President-elect Trump also announced his intent to nominate retired Army Major Vincent “Vinnie” Viola to be Secretary of the Army, a position that reports directly to the Secretary of Defense. Viola founded Virtu Financial in 2008, and was partner and Chief Executive Officer before becoming Chief Executive Chairman in November 2013. After graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1977, Viola went on to pass Ranger School and join the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division. He earned his doctorate at New York Law School in 1983 and was the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Vice Chairman from 1993 to 1996 and Chairman from 2001 to 2004. He is also the majority owner of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers.
 
David Friedman has been selected to be Ambassador to Israel. Mr. Friedman is a founding partner at the law firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP, where he specializes in bankruptcy law. Mr. Friedman, who does not have any diplomatic experience, said in a statement that he intends to serve as Ambassador “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.” The embassy is currently located in Tel Aviv, and longstanding U.S. policy has been that the status of Jerusalem should be negotiated as part of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Friedman has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a law degree from New York University.
 
President-elect Trump also announced a number of appointments. At the National Security Council, retired Army Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg will serve as Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary and Monica Crowley will serve as Senior Director of Strategic Communications. Lieutenant General Kellogg served in the United States Army from 1967 to 2003, and notable assignments included being Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and Director for Command, Control, Communications, and Computers under the Joint Chiefs of Chaff. He also served as an advisor to President-elect Trump’s campaign. Dr. Crowley, who holds a PhD from Columbia University, is an author and former contributor to Fox News Channel. From 1990 to 1994, Crowley was a Foreign Policy Assistant and Communications Director to former President Richard Nixon. Lastly, President-elect Trump announced that Dr. Peter Navarro will head the White House National Trade Council as Assistant to the President and Director of Trade and Industrial Policy and Carl Icahn, current Chairman of Icahn Enterprises L.P., will be Special Advisor to the President on Regulatory Reform. Navarro served as an advisor to President-elect Trump’s campaign and is currently a professor at the University of California-Irvine. 
 
 
 
 

December 15, 2016

This Week: President-Elect Trump Continues with nominations and appointments

President-elect Trump made two more White House appointments this past week. First, he named Gary Cohn to be Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council. In this role, Cohn will serve as President-elect Trump’s chief advisor on economic issues. Cohn has worked at The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. since 1990 and is currently its President and Chief Operating Officer. He also serves on the Board of Directors of The Institute of International Finance, Inc. and the Board of Trustees at American University. The second appointment was Stephen Miller to be Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the President for Policy. Miller is currently serving as National Policy Director for the President-Elect’s Transition Team and also served as a Senior Policy Advisor for Trump’s campaign. He previously served as Communications Director for Senator Jeff Sessions and also served as Press Secretary for former U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann. Cohn and Miller will begin their new roles on January 20, 2017.
 
President-elect Trump also announced a number of nominations. Retired four-star Marine Corps General John Kelly was selected to serve as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Kelly’s long military career started when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1970. Kelly was discharged in 1972, but after graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 1976, he was commissioned into the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant. Kelly has served three tours of duty and has held various positions, including Deputy Commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force from 2007 to 2008 and Commander of the Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North from 2008 to 2011. In addition, he served as Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense from March 2011 to October 2012. Kelly was most recently the Commander for the U.S. Southern Command from 2012 to January 2016. He graduated from the National War College in 1995 and also serves as a member on the Homeland Security Advisory Council at DHS.
 
President-elect Trump intends to nominate James Richard “Rick” Perry as the next Secretary of the Department of Energy. Perry, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in the 2012 and 2016 primaries, serves on the Board of Directors of Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. and Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. He was the Governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015 and served as Lieutenant Governor from 1998 to 2000. Prior to that, Perry was Texas’s Agricultural Commissioner from 1991 to 1999 and a State Representative from 1985 to 1991. He also served in the U.S. Air Force from 1972 to 1977 before leaving as a Captain and becoming a cotton farmer. Perry graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University in 1972.
 
President-elect Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Rex Tillerson, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ExxonMobil,to be Secretary of the Department of State. Tillerson, who has no government experience, has held his current position since 2006. He has spent his entire career at ExxonMobil (and Exxon, prior to the merger), first joining in 1975 as a Production Engineer. From 2010 to 2012, Tillerson was President of the Boy Scouts of America. He is on the board of the American Petroleum Institute, and is a member of the National Petroleum Council. Tillerson has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
 
Lastly, Trump will nominate U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke from Montana to serve as Secretary of the Department of the Interior. Zinke has been serving in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2015 and has served on the Committee on Natural Resources and the Subcommittee on Federal Lands since being elected. Prior to that, Zinke served as a Montana State Senator from 2009 to 2013.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon and master’s degrees from National University and the University of San Diego.

 

 

December 8, 2016

This Week: President-Elect Trump Continues with nominations

President-elect Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate Dr. Benjamin “Ben” Carson to be the 17th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Carson serves as National Chairman for My Faith Votes and is the President and Co-Founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, where he is currently on leave. Dr. Carson ran for the presidential nomination in the 2016 Republican primaries, but ultimately endorsed his former rival Donald Trump and later joined the Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee as Vice Chair. He is most prominently known for his work as a neurosurgeon at the John Hopkins Children’s Center, where he was Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery from 1984 until his retirement from the medical field in 2013. Dr. Carson earned his Bachelor of Arts from Yale in 1973 and his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1977.
 
President-elect Trump also selected retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Mattis to be Secretary of Defense. Mattis is currently the Davis Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, a position he has held since retiring from the military in 2013, and sits on the Board of Directors of General Dynamics Corporation and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). His notable Department of Defense (DoD) positions include serving as Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for U.S. security interests in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, from 2010 to 2013, and commanding U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) from 2007-2010. Mattis earned his bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University and also graduated from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the National War College. Since Mattis has not been out of military service for at least seven years, a requirement to become Secretary of Defense, Congress will need to pass a waiver for him to be confirmed.
 
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the government agency tasked with protecting the environment. Pruitt is a Republican, and is a climate change skeptic who has been involved in numerous lawsuits against the EPA during the Obama administration. He has served as Attorney General since 2011 and was previously an Oklahoma State Senator from 1998 to 2006. Pruitt graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown College in 1990 and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Tulsa in 1993.
 
President-elect Trump also intends to nominate Linda McMahon to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), a Cabinet-rank position. McMahon currently serves as a Member of the International Advisory Council at APCO Worldwide, Inc. She is best known for co-founding World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. with her husband Vince McMahon, and she served as its Chief Executive Officer from 1997 to 2009. She ran to represent Connecticut in the United States Senate twice, once in 2010 and again in 2012. McMahon also served on the State Board of Education for Connecticut from 2009 to 2010. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University.
 
Finally, President-elect Trump picked Iowa Governor Terry Branstad to be Ambassador to China. Branstad first served as Governor of Iowa from 1983 to 1999, and was elected again in 2010. He was Iowa’s Lieutenant Governor from 1979 to 1983, and was a member of the Iowa House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979. Branstad has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a law degree from Drake University. The current Ambassador to China is also a politician—the former U.S. Senator from Montana, Max Baucus.
 

 

December 1, 2016

This Week: President-Elect Trump Continues with nominations

During the past week, President-elect Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate five cabinet secretaries along with many other political appointments. First is U.S. Representative Thomas E. Price, who was tapped to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Elected in 2004, Price represents Georgia’s 6th District. He is Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget and served as Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee from 2011 to 2013 and the Republican Study Committee from 2009 to 2011. Price obtained both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan.
 
At the Department of the Treasury, Trump selected Steven Mnuchin to be the 77th Secretary of the Treasury. Mnuchin is a Co-Founder, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chairman at Dune Capital Management LP. He served as Trump’s Finance Chairman during the general election. In 2004, Mnuchin co-founded OneWest Bank Group N.A., formerly IndyMac, and served as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He graduated from Yale University with his bachelor’s degree in 1985.
 
Trump also announced his intent to nominate Wilbur Ross as Secretary of the Department of Commerce. Ross was Executive Managing Director of Rothschild Inc. from 1976 to 2000. He is currently the Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of the private equity firm WL Ross and Co., which he founded in 1997. Ross has a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and an M.B.A from Harvard University.
 
Elaine Chao was selected to be Secretaryof the Department of Transportation. Cho served as Secretary of Labor during the George W. Bush administration and was Deputy Secretary of Transportation from 1989 to 1991. She is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Hudson Institute and serves on multiple corporate and nonprofit boards. Chao has a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College and an M.B.A. from Harvard University.
 
For the last cabinet announcement, the President-elect selected Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education. DeVos is the Chairman of the American Federation for Children, and serves as a board member on The Philanthropy Roundtable and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
 
For other nominations, Trump named Seema Verma to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Verma is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Indiana-based healthcare consulting company SVC, Inc., where she has been since 2001. She attended the University of Maryland and earned her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. He also selected Todd Ricketts to be  Deputy Secretary of Commerce. Ricketts is a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs and serves on the board of TD Ameritrade, which was founded by his father, Joe Ricketts. Todd Ricketts earned his bachelor’s degree from Loyola University.
 
Trump also named two future White House appointments. First, the President-elect selected Donald F. McGahn to be Assistant to the President and White House Counsel. McGahn’s legal career includes being an Associate and Partner at Patton Boggs LLP and a membership on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from 2008 to 2013, including being Chairman in 2008. He is currently a Partner at Jones Day and serves as General Counsel to the President-Elect’s Transition Team (PTT). The second appointment is Kathleen “KT” McFarland as the administration’s Deputy National Security Advisor. McFarland held national security positions in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan Administrations, including serving as a Speechwriter to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and later becoming Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. McGahn and McFarland will both start their new roles on January 20, 2017. 

 

 

November 23, 2016

This Week: President-Elect Trump Continues with nominations

As the new administration’s transition process moves forward, President-elect Trump announced several nominations this past week, starting with his choice of U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions to lead the Department of Justice as Attorney General. Sessions has represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate since 1997 and holds notable committee memberships on the Committee on the Judiciary,the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on the Budget. Prior to being elected Senator, Sessions served as Attorney General for the State of Alabama from 1995 to 1997 and as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama from 1981 to 1993. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Huntingdon College and his law degree from Alabama State University.
 
President-elect Trump also announced that he will appoint retired United States Army Lieutenant General (LTG) Michael Flynn to be Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, a position commonly referred to as National Security Advisor. LTG Flynn is currently the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Flynn Intel Group, and he served as one of Trump’s key national security advisors during the presidential campaign. LTG Flynn has a long military career, most recently serving as the 18th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014. Other notable positions he has held include Commander for the Joint Functional Component for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and Chief of Intelligence for U.S. Central Command. LTG Flynn earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island, as well as master’s degrees from the United States Army Command and General Staff College, Naval War College, and Golden Gate University.
 
In another pick, the President-elect will nominate Governor Nikki Haley to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, replacing Ambassador Samantha Power. Haley became the first woman Governor of South Carolina after she was elected in 2011 and she previously served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2005 to 2010. Before her public service, Haley was an Accounting Supervisor at FCR, Inc. and served on the Board of Directors of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce and the Lexington County Chamber of Commerce. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Clemson.
 
Trump also intends to nominate U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pompeo is currently serving his third term as the U.S. House Representative for Kansas’s 4th congressional district, a position he’s held since 2011. His noteworthy committee assignments include the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Prior to joining Congress, Pompeo was President of Sentry International from 2006 to 2010. He also founded Thayer Aerospace, where he worked as Chief Executive Officer from 1996 to 2006. Pompeo graduated first in his class from West Point and went on to serve as a Cavalry Officer from 1986 to 1991. He then obtained his law degree from Harvard University in 1994, where he served as Editor of the Harvard Law Review.
 
Richard Olson, the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, retired from the Department of State. He had served in this position for about a year, and prior to that was Ambassador to Pakistan from 2012 to 2015. Olson first joined the State Department in 1982 and was a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He was Assistant Ambassador to Afghanistan and Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs from 2011 to 2012, and from 2008 to 2011 he served as Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said that Olson “played an invaluable role in consolidating the progress Afghanistan has made over the past 15 years, including the pursuit of an Afghan led reconciliation process.”

 

 

November 17, 2016

This Week: President-Elect Trump's Transition Team

With the election over, the focus this week shifted to the President-Elect’s Transition Team (PTT). The already hectic process of setting up a new administration was made even more tumultuous by the removal of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was replaced as Chair by Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Rick Dearborn, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions’ Chief of Staff, was named Executive Director and is essentially running the day-to-day operations. These moves led to a few transition team members resigning or being forced out, including former U.S. Representative Mike Rogers and former U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor. Additionally, the transition team has been slow to take over their office space at the General Services Administration’s headquarters in Washington, DC, and has carried out many of its functions in New York. However, the transition team has made two White House personnel announcements. Reince Priebus, current Chairman of the Republican National Committee, will be the Chief of Staff, and Steve Bannon, former Chairman of the Breitbart News Network, will be Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor.
 
In other news, Mary Jo White, the Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), announced that she will be stepping down when the Obama Administration ends in January 2017. White has served as Chair since 2013, with a term scheduled to expire in 2019. Under law, the SEC has five commissioners; White’s departure will leave a third vacant slot, leaving only Commissioners Michael Piwowar and Kara Stein. It will be up to President-elect Trump to designate a new Chair when he takes office. White had a long legal career prior to arriving at the SEC. From 1993 to 2002, she served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Prior to joining the public sector in 1990 as First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, White was a Litigation Partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP from 1983-1990. White has a bachelor’s degree from William and Mary, a master’s from the New School for Social Research, and a law degree from Columbia Law School.

 

 

November 10, 2016

This Week: President-Elect Trump

In a stunning upset, Republican Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States on November 8th. The President and Chief Executive Officer of The Trump Organization, LLC defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator from New York. Despite Clinton winning the popular vote and months of predictions that she would become the first female president in U.S. history, Trump came away victorious on election night by winning the major swing states of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Leading his transition into the White House will be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, will be sworn in on January 20, 2017. This will be Trump’s first time holding political office.  

Ambassador David Pressman left his position as the Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Pressman had served in this position since 2014, and prior to that he was Counselor to Samantha Power, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN. From 2012 to 2013, Pressman served as Assistant Secretary in the Office of Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security. He is now serving in dual roles – as a partner at the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner and as executive director of a new foundation launched by George and Amal Clooney. Pressman has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a law degree from New York University.

 

November 3, 2016

This Week: The Department of the Interior(DOI) named new heads for the Bureau of Indian Affairs(BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education(BIE)

This week, the Department of the Interior (DOI) named new heads for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). At BIA, Weldon “Bruce” Loudermilk will assume the role of Director. Loudermilk comes from BIA’s Alaska Regional Office, where he’s served as Director since 2014. He replaces 6-year Director Michael Black, who will become Senior Advisor to Loudermilk. Black has a bachelor’s degree from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and Loudermilk has a bachelor’s from Montana State. The Bureau of Indian Education has selected Tony Dearman to be its next Director, replacing Acting Director Ann Marie Bledsoe. Dearman has served as the Associate Deputy Director for BIE Operated Schools since 2015 and earned both his bachelor and master’s degrees from Northeastern State University.
 
Steve Ellis, the Deputy Director for Operations at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), announced that he will be retiring effective December 1, 2016. There is no word on his replacement. Ellis was officially named to this role in early 2014, after serving in an acting capacity for about six months. He has worked for BLM and the U.S. Forest Service for over 20 years. Ellis was BLM’s Idaho State Director from 2010 to 2013 and Supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest from 2004 to 2010. He has a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University.
 
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) appointed a new person to lead its temporary safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail system. Angela Dluger, who has spent the past three years as Deputy Associate Administrator of the Office of Transit Safety and Oversightat the FTA, took over this past week as the Director of the WMATA Safety Oversight Team. In this role, Dluger is responsible for overseeing  the implementation of safety changes, as well as helping identify problems and defects with Metrorail, the nation’s second busiest subway system. Dluger has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 
 
 

October 27, 2016

This Week: The Smithsonian Institution selects David Rubenstein as the next Chair of their Board of Regents

This week, the Smithsonian Institution (SI) announced the selection of David Rubenstein as the next Chair of the agency’s Board of Regents. Rubenstein will begin his three-year term on January 31, 2017, replacing current Chair John McCarter. Rubenstein is currently the Co-Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at The Carlyle Group L.P, and has served as a member of the Board of Regents since 2009. He also serves in a number of other posts, including as Chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Duke University, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Council on Foreign Relations.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from Duke and his doctorate from the University of Chicago.
 
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) appointed Lisa Terry as its first Chief Ethics Officer. Terry, who is also Senior Vice President, leads EXIM’s Office of Ethics, a new office that was mandated by EXIM’s 2015 Charter. She previously served as General Counsel for the U.S. Office of Special Counselfrom 2013 to 2016. Her appointment as Chief Ethics Officer marks a return to EXIM; from 2006 to 2013, Terry served as the Bank’s Assistant General Counsel for Administration. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a law degree from Vanderbilt University.
 
The U.S. National Central Bureau of INTERPOL (INTERPOL Washington), the United States’ official representative to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), announced that current Director Geoffrey S. Shank will retire on October 31, 2016. Before becoming Director of INTERPOL Washington in 2015, Shank served as the organization’s Deputy Director from 2012-2015. Prior to that, he worked at the United States Marshals Service (USMS), serving as Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Investigative Operations Division. Shank earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland. Taking over as Acting Director will be Wayne H. Salzgaber, who has served as Deputy Director  since 2015. Salzgaber previously served as Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Field Operations at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He earned his bachelor’s degree from Saint Leo University.  

 

October 20, 2016

This Week: DoD selects Dr. John Zangardi as Principal Deputy Chief Information Officer

The Department of Defense (DoD) selected Dr. John Zangardi to be its new Principal Deputy Chief Information Officer. He started early October and reports to Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen. Zangardi was previously the Department of the Navy’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for C4I and Space Programs. He served as the Navy’s Acting Chief Information Officer from 2014-2015 and, before that, Zangardi served as the Navy Programs Division Director in the Office of Legislative Affairs. He earned his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School and his doctorate from George Mason University. Zangardi replaces David DeVries, who joined the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) as Chief Information Officer earlier this year.
 
The Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASAB) appointed Patrick McNamee as a member. His term at will begin on January 1, 2017, and he will fill the spot currently held by Sam McCall, whose term is expiring. McNamee has had a long career working in government auditing. He previously served as Deputy State Auditor for Florida and also served as a City Auditor for Tallahassee, Florida. He most recently retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where he was a partner. McNamee has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia. 
 
 

October 13, 2016

This Week: 18F Executive Director Aaron Snow moving to Technology Transformation Service

18F, the General Services Administration’s (GSA) office tasked with helping federal agencies build and share digital services, lost its Executive Director this week. Aaron Snow, who ran 18F since April 2015, is moving to the GSA’s Technology Transformation Service (TTS) to become an Advisor. Before becoming Executive Director, Snow served as 18F’s Deputy Executive Director from 2013-2015 and worked under 18F’s first Executive Director, Greg Godbout, who went on to become Chief Technology Officer at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). David Zvenyach, former Acquisition Management Director at 18F, will now serve as the acting head of the office. From 2011-2015, Zvenyach served as General Counsel for the Council of the District of Columbia. He has a bachelor’s degree from Wisconsin and a law degree from The George Washington University.
 
In other departure news, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)announced the resignation of General Counsel P. David Lopez, who will be leaving in early December 2016. Lopez served as General Counsel for six and a half years after being nominated by President Obama in 2010 and again in 2014, making him the agency’s longest-serving General Counsel. Prior to holding that title, Lopez served as a Supervisory Trial Attorney at the EEOC’s Phoenix (AZ) District Office and as a Special Assistant to former Chairman Gilbert Casellas. Lopez earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and graduated from Harvard University with a law degree in 1988. There is no word on an acting replacement.
 
Evan McMullin, an independent presidential candidate who is trying to appeal to Republicans dissatisfied with Donald Trump, announced Mindy Finn as his running mate this past week. Finn is a Republican digital strategist who, from 2014 to 2015, served as Digital Director to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Prior to that, she worked for Twitter’s Washington office as the Head of Strategic Partnerships. Other titles include Director of eStrategy for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2007 and Deputy Webmaster for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004. Finn also co-founded the political media firm Engage, where she was partner. She has a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a master’s from The George Washington University.
 
 

October 6, 2016

This Week: DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas resigns

The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, announced that his last day will be October 28, 2016. Mayorkas started as Deputy Secretary in December of 2013 and has served as DHS’s second-in-command for the past 34 months. In his tenure, he has racked up a number of accomplishments, including leading DHS’s delegation to Cuba to establish the first homeland security agreement with the country. Before becoming Deputy Secretary, Mayorkas served as the Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from 2009-2013. Prior to that, he was a Partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP from 2001-2009. He earned his BA from the University of California-Berkeley and his JD from Loyola Marymount University. Russell Deyo, current Under Secretary for Management at DHS, will serve as Acting Deputy Secretary upon Mayorkas’ departure.
 
In other big departure news, Katrina McFarland is stepping down from her position as Acting Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology and Army Acquisition Executive, effective November 1, 2016. She has served in this role since February of this year, and has had a long career in defense acquisition. McFarland served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition from 2012 to 2016. Prior to that, she was President of the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) from 2010-2012. From 2006 to 2010, McFarland was Director for Acquisition at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). As of this writing, there is no word on who her acting replacement will be at the United States Department of the Army (USA).
 
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a bureau of the Department of the Interior (DOI),is opening a new office at 5 Partners Place in Norman, Oklahoma, that will consolidate its Tulsa and Oklahoma City field offices.Administrative Officer Paul McGuire explained the move by saying, “Bringing our two offices together was designed to improve efficiency in terms of serving our customers and the public.” Employees of the two former offices are temporarily located at 200 Northwest 4th Street, Room 2401, until the new facility opens on October 24, 2016. The office will be led Steve Tryon, who has been the Tulsa Field Manager since 2010.
 
 

September 29, 2016

This Week: First U.S. Ambassador to Cuba in over 50 years

This week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the departure of John Carlin, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the National Security Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Carlin has served as the head of the Division and DOJ’s top national security attorney since 2014, after being confirmed by the United States Senate. His responsibilities have included combating terrorism, espionage, and cyber threats. He also played a large role in the Department’s prosecution in the Boston Marathon bombing cases. Prior to becoming Assistant Attorney General, Carlin held a number of positions at DOJ, including Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel to the Director at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). His last day is October 15, 2016.

At the Department of State (DOS), President Obama nominated Jeffrey DeLaurentis to be the first U.S. Ambassador to Cuba in over 50 years. DeLaurentis is already the highest ranking official at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, where he has served as Chargé d’Affaires since 2015. To become Ambassador, his nomination will need to be confirmed by the Senate. DeLaurentis is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, and from 2014 to 2015 he was the head of United States Interests Section in Cuba, which is how the U.S. was represented there prior to the reopening of the Embassy in 2015. In a statement, President Obama said of DeLaurentis, “He is exactly the type of person we want to represent the United States in Cuba, and we only hurt ourselves by not being represented by an Ambassador.” DeLaurentis has a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s degree from Columbia University.

In the midst of ongoing sexual harassment claims at the National Park Service (NPS), agency Director Jonathan Jarvis announced that he will be retiring in January 2017. The scandals began at the Grand Canyon National Park and complaints have spread to other NPS offices. In a House hearing this past week, lawmakers from both parties criticized Jarvis and some demanded that he resign early. Jarvis is the 18th NPS Director and was confirmed by the Senate on September 24, 2009. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from The College of William and Mary and has been with the National Park Service since 1976.

 
 

September 22, 2016

This Week: Justin Siberell named Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Ambassador at Large 

President Obama nominated Justin Siberell to be the Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Ambassador at Large at the Department of State. Siberell has been acting in this position since early this year. He has served as the Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism since 2014. Siberell joined the Foreign Service in 1993, and became a career member of the Senior Foreign Service in 2013. He has had many overseas postings, including in the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Panama. Before joining the Foreign Service, he served on the National Security Council (NSC). Siberell has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California at Berkeley.

At the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), Anne Rung, announced she will be leaving her position. Her last day will be September 30. Rung came over to OMB in 2014 to serve as a Senior Advisor after serving in a number of procurement positions at the General Services Administration (GSA). She was confirmed to lead the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in 2014. She has a bachelor’s degree from Penn State and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics. As of this writing, there is no word on an acting replacement.

At the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), it was announced that Colorado native Andrew Archuleta will serve as District Manager for the Northwest District Office in Colorado. Archuleta is currently the Field Manager of the San Luis Valley (CO) Field Office and will assume his new duties on October 2. He obtained both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Colorado State University. He will replace Joseph “Joe” Meyer, who has been selected to lead the Southwest District Office in Colorado starting on October 2. Meyer previously worked as a Field Manager in Wyoming and brings over 30 years of government experience to the Southwest District.


 

September 15, 2016

This Week: Gregory Touhill named Federal Chief Information Security Officer

The Obama Administration announced retired Brigadier General Gregory J. Touhill as the first ever Federal Chief Information Security Officer, a position based out of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House. Previously the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), General Touhill will be responsible for planning and implementing cybersecurity policy across the federal government. Prior to joining DHS, General Touhill was Director of Command, Control, Communications and Cyber Systems (J6) at U.S. Transportation Command. In addition to the hiring of the first Federal Chief Information Security Officer, Grant Schneider was named Acting Deputy Chief Information Security Officer. Schneider comes over from the National Security Council Staff, where he was Director for Cybersecurity Policy. Prior to that, Schneider served as a Senior Advisor at OMB and was also the Chief Information Officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency.
 
In campaign news, Donald Trump for President, Inc. announced that James Woolsey is serving as a Senior Advisor. Woolsey served in the federal government for over a decade, under both Democratic and Republican presidents. He was Director of the Central Intelligence Agency during President Bill Clinton’s administration from 1993-1995. During President Jimmy Carter’s administration, Woolsey served as Under Secretary of the Navy. He is currently Of Counsel to the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Goodwin Procter, and is a Venture Partner at Lux Capital Management. Woolsey has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, a master’s degree from Oxford University, and an LL.B from Yale Law School.

 

September 8, 2016

This Week: Trump campaign hires David Bossie as Deputy Campaign Manager

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. hired David Bossie as Deputy Campaign Manager. Bossie is the President of the conservative Citizens United Super PAC LLC, a position he has held since 2001. The organization is best known for its role in the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Bossie is a longtime critic of the Clintons and has written books and produced films about them. Trump’s campaign also named Sarah Huckabee Sanders to a new role on its communications team. She had been serving as a senior advisor since February. Huckabee Sanders is the daughter of former governor Mike Huckabee, and she managed his 2016 presidential campaign. In 2014, Huckabee Sanders served as a senior advisor to Senator Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) reelection campaign, and in 2010 she managed Senator John Boozman’s (R-AR) campaign.
 
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the independent agency tasked with regulating U.S. international ocean transportation, announced a number of staff changes this week. First was the retirement of Vern W. Hill, who had served as Managing Director since 2013. Karen V. Gregory, former Secretary at the Commission, has taken over the role of Managing Director. Serving as Acting Secretary is Rachel E. Dickon, who has worked as Assistant Secretary at the Commission since 2010. In addition, Peter J. King has been promoted to Deputy Managing Director. He was most recently the Director of the Bureau of Enforcement, which is now managed by Acting Director Brian L. Troiano.

 

September 1, 2016

This Week: Trump campaign hires Bill Stepien as National Field Director

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. hired Bill Stepien as national field director. Stepien is a longtime Republican operative who managed both of Chris Christie’s campaigns for New Jersey Governor. He was also national field director for Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign in 2007-2008, before joining the McCain campaign as Regional Campaign Manager for New York and New Jersey. Stepien has a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. The Trump campaign also hired Susie Wiles as a Communications Adviser. Wiles is a Co-Chair of Trump’s campaign in Florida, and is a managing partner in the Jacksonville office of Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm.  She managed Florida Governor Rick Scott’s campaign in 2010. Wiles has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland.
 
Adam Hodge left his position as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of the Treasury. In that role, he was responsible for issues relating to domestic finance. Hodge had been at Treasury since 2013, previously serving as the Spokesperson for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Prior to that, Hodge worked at the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He has a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.
 
Trevor Kincaid left the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where he had served as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Public and Media Affairs since 2014. Kincaid has joined FWD.us, a lobbying group founded by Mark Zuckerberg, as a senior communications strategist. He worked on Capitol Hill and for Congressional campaigns for several years, including for Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL, 9th), and former Representative Nick Lampson (D-TX, 22nd). 

 

August 25, 2016

This Week: Paul Manafort resigns as Chairman of Donald J. Trump for President

Paul Manafort resigned as Donald J. Trump for President’s chairman, a day after Trump named a new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and a chief executive, Stephen Bannon. The Trump campaign has gone through a series of leadership changes. In June, Trump fired his first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Manafort has been involved with many Republican presidential campaigns over the course of several decades, and his consulting clients include former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych. Recently there have been news reports about Manafort receiving millions of dollars off the books from his former Ukrainian clients. He has both a bachelor’s and a law degree from Georgetown University.
 
The Federal Election Commission announced that Acting General Counsel Daniel Petalas will be leaving his position in September. Petalas has been Acting General Counsel since August 2015. He was initially appointed for a 120 day period, which was then extended. The FEC has been plagued by political gridlock, and has had difficulty finding a permanent General Counsel that the commissioners from both parties can agree on. Petalas was a rare person who was seen as a consensus choice – hence why his initial acting term was extended. Upon his departure next month, he will become an owner at the law firm Garvey Schubert Barer. Petalas has a bachelor’s degree from California State University-Fullerton, a master’s in English literature from Texas A&M University, and a law degree from the University of Texas.
 
Amtrak named Charles “Wick” Moorman as its new president and CEO, effective September 1st. Moorman is the former head of Norfolk Southern, where he worked for over 40 years. He will be replacing current Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman, who had announced his impending retirement almost a year ago. Moorman serves on multiple boards, including that of Duke Energy and Chevron. He graduated from Georgia Tech and Harvard Business School. 

 

August 11, 2016

This Week: Former House staffer Evan McMullin launches Independent presidential campaign

It was an odd week for the presidential election as Evan McMullin threw his hat into the race. A relative unknown outside of the Beltway, McMullin was a staffer with the U.S. House of Representatives for close to four years. He first joined the staff of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2013, later jumping ship to the Office of Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, 5th), where he served a short stint as her Senior Policy Director. McMullin concurrently served as the Policy Director for the House Republican Conference, a position he held for a little less than two years. Prior to that, McMullin spent three years in the financial sector with Goldman Sachs and had an eleven-year career with the Central Intelligence Agencyas an Operations Officer. With little or no national recognition and a platform catering almost exclusively to the anti-Donald Trump wing of the Republican Party, it’s unlikely that McMullin will make much headway in the November elections. Realistically, he may be trying to set himself up for another election in either 2018 or 2020. That said, never count out the Never Trump movement, which has managed to remain a thorn in the GOP nominee’s side for months now and doesn’t look likely to go away anytime soon. If nothing else, McMullin could conceivably peel off conservative voters who don’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton but don’t want to encourage the Libertarian Party.
 
It was a big week for the Federal IT sector as the Department of Defense lost its Deputy CIO to the Office of Personnel Management. David Lee De Vries has been the Principal Deputy Chief Information Officer at DOD since March of 2014, making him the number two information technology official in the entire defense sector. A former officer in the United States Army, De Vries retired at the rank of Colonel back in 2009, finishing out his tour of duty as Deputy Commander of Operations at U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command. He immediately transitioned into the Career Senior Executive Service and an assignment as the Principal Director of Information Management and Defense, a position he held from 2009 to 2012. He later moved up to Deputy Chief Information Officer for Information Enterprise. De Vries briefly took charge as Acting Chief Information Officer when Teri Takai stepped down in 2014 before handing the reins over to Terry Halvorsen and steppinginto his current role as Principal Deputy. De Vries graduated from West Point in 1980 and later earned his MSEE at the University of Washington.
 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission also made waves this week, naming David J. Nelson as its new Chief Information Officer. Nelson currently serves as the Director and Chief Information Officer of the Office of Enterprise Information at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, his second time in this role. In the interim, he had a brief run as the Deputy Chief Operating OfficerBefore that, he had a hectic year or two at the Office of Enterprise Management, where he served as Deputy Director, Acting Director, and then full-on Director. Earlier in his career, he was the Director of Data Analytics and Control Group and Director of the Call Center Systems Division. Prior to joining the federal government, Nelson was the Vice President of Operations for Alternative Broadband Access, Chief Operating Officer at Satius, Vice President of Operations and Professional Services at Wisor Telecom, and Vice President of Network Operations at e-centives, among others. He graduated from the University of Phoenix.
 

 

August 5, 2016

This Week: Donald Trump fires several senior aides

The Joint Chiefs of Staff finished a historic turnover this week as Army National Guard General Frank Grass stepped down and retired. Grass had been head of the National Guard Bureau, and was the last holdout of the previous generation of Joint Chiefs, a group that included Ray Odierno, Mark Welsh, and Martin Dempsey, among others. With his departure, Air National Guard General Joseph Lengyel becomes the final member of the Joint Chiefs to be put in place during the Obama Administration. Lengyel previously served as Vice Chief of the National Guard under Grass. Before that he was head of the Office of the Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, and before that he was Vice Commander of Air Forces Northern and the 1st Air Force. His last staff officer assignment was as a Military Assistant at A8 Strategic Plans and Programs, which followed a stint as Deputy Director of the Air National Guard and Commander of the Air National Guard Readiness Center. Lengyel graduated from the University of North Texas at Denton in 1981 and went on to earn an MBA at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
 
There was also continued unrest on the campaign trail this week as Donald Trump fired several senior aides and hired at least one new senior staffer. Among those fired was Ed Brookover, formerly a strategist with Carson America, who had joined the Trump campaign back in March as a senior advisor. Brookover was best known for his stint as Political Director at the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 1990s, where he helped usher in a wave of conservative victories. Before the dust had even settled, Trump hired John Rader, the Chief of Staff for Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), to serve as a member of his transition team, as well as Jason Simmons and Matt Mowers, to serve as North Carolina State Director and National Field Coordinator, respectively. Clinton brought on board Matt Mittenthal, formerly the Press Secretary to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, to serve as a spokesman for her rapid response team, along with a host of other hires. While Clinton has enjoyed a poll bounce following last week’s national convention, Trump remains in the media spotlight and third-partiers Gary Johnson and Jill Steinremain poised to act as spoilers for both campaigns.
 
Outside of regular politics and the campaign trail, it was also a big week for President Obama himself. Not only did the nation’s 44th president celebrate his 55th birthday – his last one in office – but he also designated the site of his future presidential library: Jackson Park in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. The center is currently in its design phase; no construction date has been set, but it’s expected to be complete sometime around 2020.
 

 

July 28, 2016

This Week: Hillary Clinton officially nominated as Democratic candidate for President

Hillary Clinton officially became the first woman in American history to win the presidential nomination of a major political party this week. Clinton’s longest lasting primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), personally called to scrap a roll call vote and give her the nomination by acclamation, signaling a move by Sanders and the majority of his supporters to mend fences with the Clinton camp. While a vocal minority remains opposed to Clinton, the convention has generally been a lesson in contrasts to its Republican counterpart in Cleveland last week: A picture of relative unity with most speakers staying on message. Clinton is a veteran lawyer who spent fifteen years with the Rose Law Firm, remaining active throughout both of her stints as First Lady of Arkansas. She only tabled her legal career in 1992, when her husband, Bill, became the 42nd President of the United States. Clinton emerged early in her husband’s campaign and subsequent administration as a politically active figure in her own right, lobbying hard in favor of universal healthcare and education; she was one of the most active First Ladies in living memory. As Bill Clinton’s time in office wound down, Hillary launched her independent political career by seeking and winning office as a Senator from New York, a position she held until 2009. She made her first run at the White House against then-upstart Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), bowing out after a contest not too different from her own match-up with Sanders. Clinton later joined the Obama Administration as Secretary of State, a position she held for the better part of five years. She graduated from Wellesley in 1969 and earned her law degree from Yale in 1973.
 
Clinton also named her running mate this week: Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), widely seen as a tame, safe choice. A former Governor of Virginia, Kaine was elected to the Senate in 2012, succeeding former senator and also-ran candidate Jim Webb, defeating former senator and governor George Allen in the process. Although he’s kept a relatively low profile since then, Kaine is a popular senator and previously headed the Democratic National Committee, a role in which he succeeded another former governor and one-time presidential candidate, Howard Dean. Prior to his governorship, Kaine served a term as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Before that he was President of the Virginia Senate and earlier still he served as Mayor of the City of Richmond. He got his start as a lawyer specializing in housing discrimination before being elected to the Richmond City Council in 1994. Kaine graduated from the University of Missouri in 1979 and Harvard Law School in 1983.
 
This week also saw Neil DeGrasse Tyson join the Defense Innovation Advisory Board at the Department of Defense. Other new appointees included Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Adam Grant of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, noted entrepreneur and tech wonk Danny Hillis, Eric Lander of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Marne Levine of Instagram, J. Michael McQuade of United Technologies, Milo Medin of Google, Richard Murray of the California Institute of Technology, Jennifer Pahlka of Code for America, and Cass Sunstein of Harvard Law School. They join previous appointees Eric Schmidt of Alphabet Inc., Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn and Greylock Partners, Walter Isaacson of theAspen Institute, and retired Admiral William McRaven of the University of Texas. Tyson, America’s popular science guru and astrophysicist, currently serves as the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, a position he’s held since 2003. 
 

 

July 22, 2016

This Week: Donald Trump officially nominated as Republican candidate for President

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign once again rocketed to the forefront in media coverage this week. His nomination as the Republican candidate to be President of the United States became official, despite a couple of large bumps in the road, and he rolled out his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. The governor is a solid, unquestionably conservative addition to the campaign, one that Trump hopes will help him win over the very establishment he tore down during the primary season – especially the donors that Trump must now rely on to close an enormous financing gap with the Clinton campaign. Pence previously served six terms in the United States House of Representatives, where he served as Republican Conference Chair and was seen by many as a rising star with the potential to one day become House Speaker. Prior to actually winning a House seat, Pence was best known as the host of The Mike Pence Show, a conservative radio talk show with a more sedate tone than his contemporaries. He ran for Congress twice against Phil Sharp (D-IN, 2nd), losing both times, before sweeping into office in 2000. Prior to that, Pence served as President of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a state-focused think tank. He got his start as an Attorney at Stark Doniger Mernitz and Smith. Pence graduated Hanover College in 1981 and Indiana University in 1986.
 
Outside of election news, the biggest story this week was also one of the quietest: newly-minted Vice Admiral Jan Tighe left her old job at U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and took over as the new Director of Naval Intelligence and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations at N2/N6 Information Warfare, the directorate of the Navy Staff that oversees all things naval intelligence and most things IT. Tighe’s swearing-in also marks the effective end of the career of Vice Admiral Ted Branch, a once-shining officer whose career went hard off the rails right as he was beginning his own N2/N6 tenure. Branch has the dubious distinction of being the highest-ranking naval official implicated or otherwise involved in the so-called Fat Leonard Scandal, in which a defense contractor spent years bribing navy personnel with everything from underage prostitutes to Lady Gaga tickets. Branch was also infamous for spending most of his tenure as Director of Naval Intelligence without a security clearance – meaning he had to leave the room any time there was a discussion involving classified information. Effectively unable to do most of his job, Branch instead spent two years hammering out personnel reforms while his deputies ran the show in his stead. Compounding the Navy’s embarrassment, several attempts to replace Branch failed, the most recent being Rear Admiral Elizabeth Train, the one-time commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence, who was canned shortly after her assignment to N2/N6 over accusations over creating a hostile work environment.
 
This week also saw the confirmations of six new ambassadors: Anne Hall, Lawrence Robert Silverman, Carol Z. Perez, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, Douglas Alan Silliman, and Marie L. Yovanovitch, who will represent the United States to the countries of Lithuania, Kuwait, Chile, Greece, Iraq, and Ukraine, respectively. While all six are likely to be juggling crises for the remainder of the Obama Administration, it’s tough to say whose job will be the most difficult. Silliman is currently serving as Ambassador to Kuwait, and in Iraq he’s expected to play an integral role in US attempts to stabilize the country and push back against ISIS. Yovanovitch comes to Ukraine from her current position as Dean of the School of Language Studies at the Foreign Service Institute. She’ll have the unenviable task of trying to mitigate Ukrainian civil unrest, Russian influences, and the mistrust of America caused by both. Pyatt, Yovanovitch’s predecessor, moves to Greece, where he gets to contend with lingering economic difficulties and the current Brexit-induced turmoil in the European Union
 

 

July 14, 2016

This Week: Bernie Sanders endorses, campaigns with Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump ginned up publicity for his campaign this week with speculation about his running mate, complete with reports of a big announcement by Friday, but the big story was Bernie Sanders effectively conceding the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton when he endorsed her run for the White House. The announcement was greeted with mixed enthusiasm. Many considered it overdue and possibly even diminished because of how long Sanders took, while some of his most strident supporters greeted the endorsement as a betrayal. Whatever you think, Sanders was able to leverage endorsement negotiations to get approximately four-fifths of his policy goals into the 2016 Democratic campaign platform – an astounding win for one of the unlikeliest major candidates in living memory, and one that had an immediate impact as the Clinton campaign, as well as President Obama, have begun focusing on ideas like free college and a health care public option. Sanders’ campaign apparatus is likely to remain functional in some capacity until the Democratic National Convention later this month, and it’s a decent bet that he’ll technically remain a candidate all the way to the convention floor, but the primaries for both parties are effectively over. From here on out, it’s Clinton versus Trump, with third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein getting occasional media coverage along the way.
 
Off the campaign trail, United States Coast Guard Vice Admiral Marshall B. Lytle made a bit of history this week when he became one of, if not the highest-ranking Coast Guardsman to ever hold an office within the actual Department of Defense. Lytle assumed command of the Joint Staff’s J6 Command, Control, Communications and Computers/Cyber/Chief Information Officer Directorate, putting him close to the top of the Defense IT food chain. The staff move, and Lytle’s accompanying promotion, had been in the works for close to a year and follows the departure and subsequent retirement of Army Lieutenant General Mark Bowman, the previous J6. Before starting his new job, Lytle served as Commander of Coast Guard Cyber Command and Assistant Commandant and Chief Information Officer in charge of the Coast Guard’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Information Technology Directorate. He previously served as Acting Deputy Commandant for Mission Support. Before that, his last joint assignment was as Chief Information Officer at United States Cyber Command. Lytle first enlisted in 1981 as a graduate from the Coast Guard Academy. In 1991, he earned an MS from the University of Miami.
 
This week also saw the nomination of Joseph R. Donovan Jr. as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia. Donovan currently serves as Managing Director of the Washington Office of the American Institute in Taiwan, a government-funded non-profit corporation that’s served as a makeshift embassy to Taiwan ever since the federal government recognized the current Chinese government back in 1979. If confirmed, Indonesia would mark Donovan’s first official ambassadorship, although he might not be in office for too long with election season looming. Donovan previously served as Foreign Policy Advisor in the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Before that, he was a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Earlier positions include Consul General in the Hong Kong and Macau Consulate, Deputy Chief of Mission in the United States Embassy to Japan, and Director of the Office for Chinese and Mongolian Affairs. Donovan is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He graduated from Georgetown in 1973 and the Naval Postgraduate School in 1993.
 

July 1, 2016

This Week: Top-level changes at the Air Force and Air National Guard signal an end of an era

It was the end of an era this week as Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh stepped down and Air National Guard Lieutenant General Joseph Lengyel was confirmed to be the new head of the National Guard Bureau. Together, Welsh and Lengyel’s predecessor, Army National Guard General Frank Grass, were the old guards of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – both of them took office within about a month of each other in 2012. With their departures, all of the most senior uniformed military positions have changed hands within about a year of each other; it’s the kind of sea change that hasn’t happened for nearly forty years. Welsh is moving on to serve as Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, putting him within driving distance of fellow retired officer-turned-academic heavyweight, William McRaven, who is Chancellor of the University of Texas System. Prior to stepping up as Chief of Staff, Welsh served as Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe for about two years. Before that he served a stint with the Central Intelligence Agency as an Associate Director for Military Support. Earlier, he served as Vice Commander of Air Education and Training Command, Deputy Commander for Strategic Command’s ISR component, and Director of Global Power Programs in the office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition. Welsh graduated from the Air Force Academy and began his career as an officer in 1976. He later earned degrees at Webster University and the Naval War College. His son, Mark Welsh IV, is an energy investor.
 
As Welsh stepped down, General David Goldfein took office as the new Chief of Staff, just a few days after his confirmation in the Senate. Goldfein previously served about a year as the Vice Chief of Staff under Welsh. His appointment provides more continuity than some had been expecting, as Goldfein beat out wildcards like Air Force Space Command’s General John Hyten or Air Force Materiel Command’s Ellen Pawlikowski, among others. A career aviator with over 4,200 flight hours to his name, Goldfein is very much cut from the same cloth as Welsh; roughly half of his career has been spent in fighter squadrons, groups, and wings. Prior to his assignment as Vice Chief of Staff, Goldfein was Director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, where he served under then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. Before that he was Commander of Air Forces Central Command, Director of Operations at Air Combat Command, and Deputy Director of Programs at the Air Force’s A5 Strategic Plans and Programsdirectorate. Goldfein began his military career right out of college in 1983, when he graduated from the Air Force Academy. He later earned an MBA at Oklahoma City University.
 
This week also saw the confirmation of R. David Harden as a new Assistant Administrator with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Harden will head up USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance. As of this writing, he still serves in one of the toughest jobs at the agency, if not in the international community in general: Mission Director for the West Bank and Gaza. Prior to his current assignment, he served at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, where he was primarily the Deputy Mission Director for the USAID office there. Harden also served a brief stint as USAID-Iraq’s Acting Mission Director. Before that, he was Senior Advisor to the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, a position he held for three years. Earlier still, he was a Senior Development Advisor in Libya, Deputy Mission Director for the West Bank and Gaza, and Regional Legal Advisor in both Central and South Asia. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College and also earned degrees from Columbia and Georgetown. 
 

June 23, 2016

This Week: Donald Trump fires campaign manager Corey Lewandowski

In between fundraising woes, delegates spoiling for a convention fight, and the firing of his campaign manager, it wasn’t a good week for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The aforementioned manager, Corey Lewandowski, had been an early supporter of Trump’s campaign bid, and is widely credited as the architect behind Trump’s rise from long shot to presumptive nominee. He was also someone Trump ardently defended through several dust-ups with the media, including an alleged assault on a reporter. Lewandowski first jumped onto the campaign trail from Americans for Prosperity (AFP), where he was the National Director for Voter Registration. He previously spent the better part of six years as AFP’s East Coast Regional Director. Before that, Lewandowski worked for about eight years at Schwartz MSL, a public affairs firm in Boston. Earlier still, he was the Executive Director of the New England Seafood Producers Association. His last overtly political job was as Campaign Manager and Communications Director for Friends of Senator Bob Smith in New Hampshire. His first big break came in 2001 with a brief stint as Legislative Political Director for the Northeast Region of the Republican National Committee. Lewandowski’s future in politics is simultaneously uncertain and assured; nobody knows where he’ll end up, but he helped craft one of the most unique primary campaigns in the country’s history, which will look good on his resume no matter how Trump fares in the general.
 
Not one to let a political rival off easy, Hillary Clinton took more than a few swipes at Trump this week, mostly focusing on his business record. She also hired several senior staffers, including a new state communications director in Michigan, a new national economic advisor, and a new Deputy Political Director, Carlos Sanchez. Sanchez joins the campaign from the Office of Representative Joaquín Castro (D-TX, 20th), where he serves as Rep. Castro’s Chief of Staff. Sanchez previously served as a Policy Advisor and Deputy Press Secretary in the Office of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, 8th), the culmination of several years working with Rep. Pelosi as a Press Advisor, first when she was a regular Representative, then as Speaker of the House, and finally as Democratic Leader.  Prior to that, he worked as a Communications Director with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and spent about two years in the Office of Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY, 14th), first as a Staff Assistant and later as a Press Assistant. He graduated from Texas A&M in 2001.
 
The Department of Veterans Affairs garnered some of the spotlight as Danny G.I. Pummill announced his impending retirement from the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), where he is serving as Acting Under Secretary. Pummill stepped up from his job as Principal Deputy last October, when his old boss, Allison Hickey, resigned. Pummill previously served as the Director of a DOD/VA Interagency Program Office. Prior to that, he joined VBA as a Deputy Director of Compensation and Pension, following two years as Assistant Deputy for Human Resources at the United States Department of the Army’s Manpower and Reserve Affairs office. Pummill had originally been scheduled to retire last year, but stuck around after Hickey’s departure. Back in March, Pummill was hit with a two-week suspension for his part in a relocation scandal involving two other senior officials. His replacement, Thomas Murphy, will likely run the VBA for the remainder of the Obama Administration.
 
 

June 16, 2016

This Week: William Nettles steps down as US Attorney for the District of South Carolina

William N. Nettles, the United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina, surprised court watchers this week by stepping down from his office just a few months before the slated trial of suspected church shooter Dylan Roof. There’s room to speculate that he may have stepped down over Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s decision to pursue the death penalty in the case. As the longest-serving South Carolina U.S. Attorney in almost half a century, Nettles’ fingerprints are all over most of the biggest stings, busts, and anti-crime initiatives in the state’s history. Nettles now heads back into private practice, where he previously ran his own offices for the better part of fifteen years; first as a Partner at Banks and Nettles, then starting his own practice before joining his father-in-law, Alex Sanders, as part of the Law Offices of Sanders and Nettles. Along the way, he also served as President of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He got his start as an Attorney for the County of Richland, South Carolina. He graduated from the Citadel in 1983 and earned his JD at Widener University in 1992. His wife, Zoe, and father-in-law currently head up the latest incarnation of the family law firm.
 
This week also saw the departure of David I. Gelfand, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Litigationin the Civil Enforcement section of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Like Nettles, Gelfand is returning to private practice, specifically his old stomping grounds at Cleary Gottlieb, an international law firm, where he’ll serve as a partner in the DC office, focusing on global antitrust, litigation, and regulatory matters – basically the same job he held for thirteen years before joining the DOJ in 2013. During his first tenure as partner, Gelfand also had a three-year stint as a resident in Cleary Gottlieb’s Brussels office. He first joined the firm as an Associate in 1991, following about four years as an Associate with Miller Cassidy Larroca and Lewin. Gelfand previously worked as a Manager for Ferox Microsystems. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1981 and earned his JD at Georgetown University in 1987.
 
While the DOJ was saying goodbye to Gelfand this week, the Department of Defense was saying hello to the three new faces who joined the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, one of the keystone organizations of Secretary Ash Carter’s push to modernize his department’s hiring, research, and contracting processes. The board’s chair, Silicon Valley superstar Eric E. Schmidt, of Alphabet Inc. fame, was announced back in March. He was joined this week by Reid Hoffman, Walter S. Isaacson, and retired Vice Admiral William H. McRaven, respectively the heads of LinkedInThe Aspen Institute, and the University of Texas. As Carter whittles his way through the board’s vacancies and struggles to win over converts, it remains to be seen what impact it will have on the defense sector as a whole.
 
 

June 9, 2016

This Week: Clinton clinches Democratic nomination

Former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made history this week, effectively clinching the Democratic nomination for President of the United States after a grueling race with Senator Bernie Sanders. While Sanders has yet to concede the race as of this writing, and 113 delegates remain to be pledged, Clinton effectively eliminated him in the most recent round of primary voting – she has a lead of almost 400 delegates on her insurgent rival, not counting the vast majority of party super delegates who’ve pledged their votes for her. In his most recent speeches and interviews, Sanders has vowed to fight all the way to the convention, but rumors of mass layoffs at his campaign have already begun spreading like wildfire. Clinton has begun maneuvering into position to take on Republican nominee Donald Trump, setting the stage for what promises to be a bitterly fought election between two of the most divisive candidates in living memory, with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson looming on the sidelines as a possible spoiler to either of them. Clinton’s path to the nomination has not been an easy one. As the current embodiment of the establishment and a canny, enduring politician used to reinventing herself, it remains to be seen how she’ll fare against Trump, who managed to steamroll his way to the Republican nomination in a year of unprecedented backlash against establishment politics.
 
This week also saw quite a bit of movement among federal Chief Information Officers; less of a brain drain, more a game of musical chairs as the Obama Administration winds down towards its conclusion in January. Over at the Department of Transportation, CIO Jason Carroll is heading for the door and the department is currently looking for his replacement, while the Department of State is reassigning its current CIO, Steve Taylor, to an as-yet-unknown position with the Foreign Service; his acting replacement hasn’t been named as of this writing. The Department of Education hired Jason Gray, who left DOT last month, and Kevin Smith is joining the Census Bureau from his old job at the Patent and Trade Office, where he was Chief Information Security Officer.
 
Rounding out the week, Frank Benenati jumped from the Executive Office of the President to the Environmental Protection Agency, where he’ll serve as the new Associate Administrator for Public Affairs. Benenati spent the past two years as an Assistant Press Secretary to the President, making him a frequently seen face of the Obama Administration during press conferences and interviews. Prior to that, he was Press Secretary for Communications in the Office of Management and Budget, and before that he had a short stint with Precision Strategies in 2013. He was a Regional Press Secretary for Obama for Americaduring the president’s re-election campaign, and earlier still he served as Press Secretary in the Office of Representative Louise M. Slaughter. Benenati also served as a professional staffer in the Office of Representative Linda T. Sánchez, where he was a Press Assistant and Legislative Correspondent. He graduated from American in 2005.
 
 

June 2, 2016

This Week: Admiral William Moran becomes Vice Chief of Naval Operations

Admiral Michelle Howard left the Navy Staff this week, turning over the office of Vice Chief of Naval Operations to newly-frocked Admiral William Moran in the process. The change is an abrupt one in some ways – Howard was first confirmed for the job back at the tail end of 2013, but had to wait about a year to take office because she and so many other flag officers were caught in the wake of the Fat Leonard scandal. Neither Howard nor Moran nor their predecessor, Admiral Mark Ferguson, were ever implicated in the scandal; it just bogged down the entire Navy that badly. Howard now heads to US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, where she will again replace Ferguson, while also positioning herself as a possible candidate to become Chief of Naval Operations when Admiral John Richardson steps down. Her own replacement, Bill Moran, comes to the Vice Chief’s office from the Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS), where he was responsible for the uniformed segment of the Navy’s manpower, personnel, training, and education programs. Prior to taking over BUPERS, Moran spent about three years as Deputy Director and then Director of the Air Warfare Divisionunder N9 Warfare Systems. Before that he was an Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations. Earlier still, he served as Deputy Director of the Navy Staff. Moran graduated from the Naval Academy in 1981 and earned an advanced degree at the National War College in 2006.

This week also saw the confirmation of Laura S. H. Holgate to be Representative of the United States of America to the International Atomic Energy Agency at the Vienna Office of the United Nations, complete with a new ambassadorial title and rank. Holgate’s confirmation comes after nearly a year of grinding through the Senate, where she was first nominated last August and spent a combined total of about eight months without making any real progress between hearings and committee votes. As of this writing, Holgate currently serves as a Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Terrorism, and Threat Reduction on the National Security Council (NSC), a position that renders her a de facto special assistant to President Obama. Holgate has been in that position since the Obama Administration’s early days, starting off all the way back in 2009. Prior to that, she was the Vice President for Russia and the Newly Independent States at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a position she held from 2001 all the way up to her NSC appointment. Earlier, she served as the Director of the Office of Fissile Material Disposition at the Department of Energy, and before that she worked at the Department of Defense as Special Coordinator and Director for Cooperative Threat Reduction. Her first DOD gig was as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. Before her government service, Holgate spent about two years as a Project Coordinator at the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She graduated from Princeton and later earned a graduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
 
In campaign news, this week featured the Libertarian Party once again nominating former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, a relatively low-key climax to a convention that featured more viral content than the rest of the party’s primary combined. Johnson survived a contested convention, beating out challenges from Austin Petersen and John McAfee to clinch the nomination. Fellow former governor William F. Weld, who led Massachusetts for six years, was selected as Johnson’s running mate. While their odds of winning are very low and their odds of even getting onto the debate stage with their Republican and Democratic counterparts aren’t much better, they are currently polling higher than any ticket in the Libertarian Party’s history – around 10% in a hypothetical three-way matchup with Clinton and Trump. Since both Johnson and Weld are former Republicans, their nomination also signals a possible sea change as dissatisfied segments of the Republican Party continue to look for an alternative to Trump, his movement, and the Establishment he’s becoming increasingly friendly with. For his part, Trump continued his long-term offensive push against pretty much everyone this week, dismissing his would-be Libertarian challenges out-of-hand and sniping at the media over coverage of a veterans charity event. Clinton, on the other hand, remains locked in an increasingly bitter, drawn-out contest with Bernie Sanders. She might finally succeed in putting him away next week when California goes to vote, but Sanders could just as easily pull another rabbit out of his hat.
 
 

May 26, 2016

This Week: Rand Beers apppointed to National Infrastructure Advisory Council

A former administration heavyweight returned to the limelight this week as President Obama announced his intention to appoint Rand Beers to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. Beers most recently served as Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. Prior to that, his most recent full-on job was a four-year stint as Under Secretary and Counterterrorism Coordinator at the Department of Homeland Security. Beers capped this stint off with one hectic year where he was also Acting Deputy Secretary for four months and Acting Secretary for three; he was technically the last person to hold the office before the current secretary, Jeh Johnson, took over. Before all of that, he was both a Counselor to the Secretary and had his first run as Acting Deputy Secretary following several months with the Obama Transition Team’s Homeland Security Review Team. His last jump into politics before that was as a National Security Advisor to theKerry-Edwards 2004 campaign, a move that had him jumping ship from the Bush Administration, where Beers had been a Special Assistant to the President. Before that, he was an Assistant Secretary of State under both Bush and Clinton, and before that he had a string of intelligence and law enforcement roles in the Clinton White House. Outside of his government work, Beers is best known as the President and Founder of the National Security Network. He joined the United States Marine Corps fresh out of Dartmouth College in 1964, and later earned a graduate degree at Michigan in 1970.

This week also saw a major shake-up at the Transportation Security Administration, where retired Coast Guard Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger laid down the law on now-former Assistant Administrator Kelly C. Hoggan, who had overseen the TSA’s Office of Security Operations for about three years. Hoggan currently stands accused of whistleblower retaliation and embezzlement in the form of illicit bonuses. It remains to be seen whether Hoggan is a sacrificial lamb to appease members of Congress or if Neffenger actually got rid of him as part of an overall attempt to clean up the TSA – or both – but his replacement was prompt and without ceremony: Hoggan is succeeded by his former deputy, Darby LaJoye, best known for his stint as Federal Security Director at Los Angeles International Airport.
 
There was also a pretty big change over at the Federal Aviation Administration, where Deputy Administrator Michael G. Whitaker announced his intention to step down at the end of next month. Whitaker joined the FAA in 2013 following a lengthy career in the private sector. His most recent job was as a Business Development Consultant for InterGlobe Enterprises Limited, from 2011 to 2013. Prior to that he was Interglobe’s Group Chief Executive Officer for Travel, Technology and Aviation Services. Earlier, he was a Senior Counsel, Vice President and then Senior Vice President at United Airlines, specializing in Alliances, International and Regulatory Affairs. Before all that, Whitaker was an Assistant General Counsel at Trans World Airlines. He graduated from the University of Louisville and earned his law degree at Georgetown in 1987.
 
 
May 19, 2016

This Week: Eric Fanning confirmed as Secretary of the Army 

History was made this week as Eric K. Fanning became the first openly gay official to formally head a branch of the armed services. After months of grinding his way through the Senate, Fanning was unanimously confirmed as the new Secretary of the United States Army. While Fanning didn’t have an easy path to his office and his term will almost certainly be short-lived, his appointment nonetheless represents a tectonic shift within the defense community as a whole and the Army in particular. Fanning previously served as Acting Secretary of the Army before being forced out over Senate objections to him occupying a position he was being considered for. Before that, he served a brief stint as Acting Under Secretary of the Army and Chief Management Officer, a position he held until shortly before Patrick Murphy was confirmed. Last year, Fanning basically played musical chairs while the newly-minted Secretary of Defense Ash Carter rearranged his senior staff to his liking. First he was wrapping up his tenure as Under Secretary of the Air Force, then he was Carter’s Special Assistant and later took on added duties as Chief of Staff, then he went to the Army. Previously, he also made history as Acting Under Secretary of the Army, and remains one of only a few people to have headed up both branches in even an acting capacity. Earlier in his career, he served as Deputy Under Secretary for Business Operations and Transformation and Deputy Chief Management Officer of the Navy under Ray Mabus. He first joined the Obama Administration in 2009 as a Special Assistant to Secretary Robert Gates.
 
Fanning wasn’t the only one making history though. Air Force General Lori J. Robinson became the first woman to ever head one of the Department of Defense’s Unified Combatant Commands when she took over US Northern Command this week, which also landed her in the top seat at NORAD and put her in charge of one of the largest administrative bodies in the entire department. Already a trailblazer for being one of only a handful of female flag and general officers to earn a fourth star, Robinson previously served as Commander of Pacific Air Forces in Hawaii. Before that she was Vice Commander at Air Combat Command, Deputy Commander for US Air Forces Central Command, and earlier still she served as head of the Air Force’s Directorate of Legislative Liaison. Depending on a variety of factors, Robinson now joins fellow Air Force General Ellen Pawlikowski and Navy Admiral Michelle Howard as one of the only three women in the armed services with an immediate shot at sitting on the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the next opening comes up in a few years. She graduated New Hampshire in 1981 and Troy State in 1992.
 

It was also a banner week for the State Department, with several important confirmations and plenty of new nominations. Among others, Sung Y. Kim was nominated as the next Ambassador to the Philippines. The nomination represents a turning point for Kim, who’s spent most of his recent career focusing more on the Korean peninsula. In his current job, he serves as both a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and as the Special Representative for North Korea Policy in the Office for North Korea Affairs. He previously served as the Ambassador to Korea from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that, he was the Director for Six-Party Talks, a position that made him one of the key figures in attempting to disarm and dissuade North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, and before that he was the Director of the Office of Korean Affairs. Earlier still, he was a Political/Military Affairs officer at the United States Embassy in Korea. His last non-Korea-related position was as a Political Officer in Japan. Before that he was a Staff Assistant in the same Bureau he works at today. He joined the State Department after a stint as a Public Prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney in the Office of the District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles. He graduated from Pennsylvania in 1982 and went on to earn law degrees from Loyola and the London School of Economics. 

 

May 12, 2016

This Week: The Air National Guard gets a new Director

The Air National Guard changed hands this week, as newly frocked Lieutenant General Leon Scott Rice took over from acting director Major General Brian G. Neal, who had been keeping the seat warm since Stanley Clarke's departure and retirement late last year. Rice comes to the Pentagon from the Massachusetts National Guard, where he served as Adjutant General. Prior to that, he was the Air National Guard Assistant to the Commander of US Air Forces in Europe. Aside from that and an earlier stint at RAF Lakenheath in England, most of Rice's career to date has been spent with state guards, particularly in Idaho and Massachusetts. For the better part of twenty-five years, he worked his way up the Massachusetts National Guard chain of command, with assignments as Director of Operations, Assistant Adjutant General, Chief of Staff, and Interim Adjutant General, among others. He also spent time dual-hatting as an assistant and information officer to former Air National Guard Director Henry Wyatt. He became Adjutant General in 2012. Rice graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1980 and 1981, respectively.

This week also included the announcement of an organizational overhaul at the National Institutes of Health, the nation's largest and most prominent medical research and treatment establishment, with the intent of bringing its staff structure more in-line with those of other hospitals. Among other things, Director Francis Collins is looking to put in place a new Chief Executive, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Medical Officer, along with establishing several new offices and boards. The reorganization effort follows several rough patches in recent years, including an FDA inspection that found problems with the Institutes' pharmacy operations and an independent review that found staff prioritized research over patient safety. The reorganization is expected to take up the remainder of the year.
 
This week also saw the announcement of Carol Zelis Perez as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Chile. If confirmed, she'll replace the outgoing ambassador, Michael Hammer, who's been in place since 2014. Perez currently serves as a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department's Bureau of Human Resources, a position she's held since early last year. She was previously a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, a position she held for about two years. Prior to that, she was the Deputy Assistant Secretary in charge of Air Wing and Resource Management. Earlier in her career, she served as the head of the Milan Consulate General in Italy, and before that she spent six years as Executive Director of the department's Executive Secretariat. Earlier still, she headed up the Barcelona Consulate General in Spain. She graduated from Hiram College and the George Washington University.

 

 

May 5, 2016

This Week: Trump wins GOP nomination as Cruz and Kasich drop out 

The knockout bell rang in Indiana this week as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Governor John Kasich of Ohio officially called it quits, leaving real estate mogul and reality TV show star Donald Trump as the last candidate standing. He is now the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee to become the President of the United States. The writing had been on the wall for months now, but both Cruz and Kasich held on as long as they could. At one point, they even attempted to collaborate as part of a strategy to force Trump into a contested convention – an alliance that effectively fell apart almost the day it was announced. The defeat is especially bitter for Cruz, whose combination of a superb ground game and outsider credentials probably would have clinched him the nomination against anyone else in this year’s flock of also-rans. While Kasich will return to Ohio with bruises to show for it, Cruz will likely be on damage control for the next couple of months as he rebuilds his brand from a combination of strategic errors and political side-swipes, including allegations of collaborating with the Republican establishment. Trump’s likely opponent, former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has not officially beaten out her only remaining rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, but the attacks have already started rolling in on both sides. It remains to be seen how much longer Sanders will hold out, especially with talk of a contested convention shifting over to the Democrats, but his paths to victory get a little more esoteric by the day. It’s less a matter of if he calls it quits and more a matter of how gracefully the self-styled political revolutionary bows out, and how effectively he’ll be able to urge his supporters to shift over to Clinton for the general.

On a less dramatic note, this week also featured the confirmation of Roberta S. Jacobson as the next U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Jacobson’s confirmation marks the end of an eleven-month slog through the United States Senate, where Senator and former presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) held her up over opposition to the Obama Administration’s thawing of relations with Cuba. As of both her confirmation and this writing, Jacobson is serving as the Assistant Secretary in charge of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department, a position she’s held since 2012. Jacobson has been with the Bureau in one capacity or another since 1996, barring only a two-year stint at the Embassy of the United States in Peru, where she served as Deputy Chief of Mission. Spanning three administrations, she’s variously served as the Bureau’s Director of Policy Planning and Coordination, Director of Mexican Affairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary and NAFTA Coordinator, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary. She graduated from Brown University in 1982 and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1986.

Rounding out the week were a series of high-level changes at the United States Army, starting at Fort Leavenworth and chaining all the way around the world – the long way – to Stuttgart, Germany. It started with the promotion and departure of General Robert B. Brown, who was replaced at his old jobs as Commandant of the Command and General Staff College and Commanding General of the Army Combined Arms Center by Brigadier General John S. Kem on an interim basis. Brown then went over to U.S. Army Pacific Command in Hawaii, where he took command from General Vincent K. Brooks. Brooks then went over to South Korea, where he took over U.S. Forces Korea from General Curtis Michael Scaparrotti. Scaparrotti then flew to the Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, where he took over U.S. European Command, along with the position of Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO, from Air Force General Philip M. Breedlove. Breedlove, finally, didn’t go anywhere or take over from anyone – he’s retiring after a career spanning almost forty years with the Air Force. 

 

 

April 28, 2016

This Week: Trump sweeps, while Clinton takes four out of five 

After a few weeks of deliberating, President Obama and Defense Secretary Carter went with a relatively safe pick for the next Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force: General David Goldfein, who beat out frontrunners like Space Command’s John Hyten and Materiel Command’s Ellen Pawlikowski to secure the nomination. Goldfein currently serves as the Air Force’s Vice Chief of Staff, a position he’s held since last August, when he came over from his old job as Director of the Joint Staff. Whereas several of Obama’s new Joint Chiefs and senior commanders come from logistics and special operations backgrounds, Goldfein is a conventional pilot who spent most of his career managing operations, in addition to serving occasional stints in policy or staff assignments. Prior to his Joint Staff position, he was the Commander for Air Forces Central Command, and before that he was Director of Operations over at Air Combat Command. He served on theAir Staff for about a year and a half as Deputy Director of Programs, and before that led a string of fighter squadrons and wings dating back to the late 1990s. He graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1983, earning a degree in philosophy, before earning his MBA at Oklahoma City in 1987. Most recently he graduated from Air Command and Staff College and Air War College in 1995 and 1998, respectively. 

Aside from the Goldfein nomination, this week was largely dominated by elections. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, long the frontrunners of their respective parties, each came several steps closer to locking in the nomination. Clinton took four states in the latest round of voting, losing only Rhode Island. Her only remaining rival, Bernie Sanders, is hanging on by a thread at this point; he’s close to being mathematically eliminated and has already begun downsizing his campaign. While Sanders has done much to shake up the race and drag the normally centrist Clinton to the left, the writing is pretty much on the wall at this point. It remains to be seen how long he’ll hold out, but he’s already begun scaling back the ferocity of his language against her, which is usually one of the first moves ahead of an outright concession. Barring another miracle win from nowhere or a continued protest campaign to try and drum up interest in the Democratic Party and Sanders’ own political ideals, his campaign is likely to run out of gas sometime in the next few weeks.

Trump, on the other hand, swept all five states on Tuesday in spite of a lukewarm, seemingly short-lived alliance between his remaining rivals, John Kasich and Ted Cruz, whose combined vote share still fell short of the Republican frontrunner in every state. While Kasich mostly kept a low profile after the defeat, Cruz sought to mitigate the damage by naming former rival and one-time Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina as his running mate – a move which immediately raised eyebrows more out of surprise than because of its strategic value. Fiorina herself dropped out of the race back in February after weeks of low polling numbers. Her big moment in the campaign so far was being able to briefly stall Trump in one of the early debates, not to mention wrangling her way into those debates despite her low poll numbers. It remains to be seen how effective she’ll be on the campaign trail, and Cruz is facing long odds if he seriously wants to win, but this has been a season of surprises and there might be a few left before it’s over.

 

 

 

April 21, 2016

This Week: VA gets a new IG, and Clinton and Trump win big in New York 

The Department of Veterans Affairs got a new Inspector General this week: Michael J. Missal, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday evening. Missal arrives at VA after a grueling six month confirmation process, four of which were spent in limbo after being voted through committee in January. Much like his new boss, Secretary Robert McDonald, Missal is an unconventional choice for a department weighed down by continuing scandals: he has no experience as an Inspector General and only minimal connections to the military, most of them by way of his father, a World War II veteran. Like McDonald, most of Missal’s claim to fame comes from a career in the private sector, where he spent most of the past thirty years as a partner with various incarnations of K&L Gates LLP, an international law firm, where he focused mainly on financial investigations and enforcement. Before that, his last government service was a Senior Counsel in the Reagan-era Securities and Exchange Commission, a position he held for five years after a year-long clerkship with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He got his start as a Staff Assistant to President Jimmy Carter back in the 70s. He graduated from Washington and Lee in 1978 and Columbus School of Law in 1982.

President Obama flexed his executive muscle this week, appointing ten members to the recently established Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity: Retired Army General and former National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander, Dr. Annie I. Anton of the Georgia Institute of TechnologyMasterCardPresident and CEO Ajay Banga, Steven Chabinsky of CrowdStrike, Dr. Patrick Gallagher of the University of PittsburghMicrosoft Corporation’s Peter Lee, Dr. Herbert Lin from Stanford University, private investor Heather Murren, Uber Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, and former Frontier CommunicationsCEO and Chairman Maggie Wilderotter. They join the Commission’s existing Executive Director, Kiersten Todt, and its Chair and Vice Chair, Thomas Donilon and Samuel Palmisano. The Commission will focus on making detailed policy recommendations to strengthen cybersecurity and privacy in both the public and private sectors. It’s slated to terminate fifteen days after its final report, but the exact timeline for its reports haven’t been provided yet, and President Obama left himself and his successors enough wiggle-room to keep the Commission going as long as necessary.

For supporters of long-shot candidates, this was also the week the Empire State struck back as New York handed Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump solid wins in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Clinton carried her former Senate state by a margin of 58% to 42%, not only retaining the near-250 delegate lead she’s had on insurgent Bernie Sanders throughout most of the contest, but also further solidifying her lead in the popular vote. It didn’t help Sanders that he hired, and then abruptly suspended, a Jewish outreach specialist who lobbed personal insults at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump, on the other hand, crushed both John Kasich and Ted Cruz, winning 60.4% of the vote. With the Republican convention looming, Cruz and Kasich aren’t being very subtle with their plans to try and force a contested convention. New York effectively eliminated Cruz’s chances of winning before a second round of voting, but he might be able to hang on long enough to clinch it on round two or three. Kasich, at this point, just seems to be sticking around as a spoiler in northeastern and otherwise moderate states. While Trump still has a near-lock on the nomination, his general election polling numbers have been awful for a while now, perhaps explaining why he’s decided to shake up his campaign staff by hiring conventional political veterans like Rick Wiley, formerly the campaign director for Scott Walker’s short-lived presidential bid, among others. It remains to be seen whether this will lead to Trump toning down the bombastic rhetoric that’s gotten him this far, or whether his anti-establishment base will be happy to hear about establishment figures finally buddying up to him.Office of the Secretary of Education, a role where she’s advised both Duncan and his successor, current Secretary John King. Of the three, Lehrich graduated from Boston University, McIntosh graduated from both Harvard College and Harvard Business School, and Whalen graduated from Stanford.

 

 

April 14, 2016

This Week: Changes to the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Joint Chiefs of Staff resumed a long-running game of musical chairs this week, as General Mark A. Welsh III announced his retirement on July 1st. His eventual replacement will bring an end to one of the largest periods of transition in the military’s history – within one year, all of the Joint Chief positions will have rotated. While that replacement has not been officially named, Air Force Space Command’s General John E. Hyten has emerged as an early frontrunner in the media. Other possible contenders include Generals Darren McDew at Transportation Command, Hawk Carlisle at Air Combat Command, and a dark horse with Ellen Pawlikowski at Air Force Materiel Command. If Hyten does get the eventual nod, it’ll be the first time in the Air Force’s history that a non-pilot has been chosen to lead it, signifying the growing importance of both space and cyber as part of the Air Force’s mission profile. Pawlikowski would be the first woman to ever head the uniform section of a military department, and while her selection would be in keeping with the Obama Administration’s push for more logistics and special operations personnel in high-ranking positions, it’s more likely that honor will one day go to Navy Admiral Michelle Howard. Welsh himself was arguably a dark horse back when he was chosen for the job in 2012 – his previous post was as the commander of US Air Forces in Europe, rather than a joint combatant command or a service-wide support command, possibly reflecting tensions with Russia at the time. Welsh graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1976, Webster University in 1987, and Naval War College in 1993. His son, Mark A. Welsh IV, is a prominent energy investor.
 
Brad Carson also stepped down this week, bringing to an end a long, painful, and ultimately futile battle with Senate Republicans. A former congressman himself, Carson had been acting for most of a year as the Obama Administration’s ninth military personnel chief, first as the formal Acting Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness, then as the Principal Deputy while continuing to perform the duties of his former role. Part of this was the recent pushback against people acting in the roles they’re nominated for, but most of it has been attributed to a variety of missteps and miscommunications between Carson and the Senate Armed Services Committee. This awkward relationship reached core meltdown when Carson went before the Committee in February; his Force of the Future policy initiative was eviscerated, even if most of its changes were individually praised, and his nomination was subsequently withdrawn. Carson stayed on for another month or so to allow for Peter Levine to take over as the new Acting Under Secretary. Like Carson, who previously served as Under Secretary and Chief Management Officer of the Army, Levine will start off dual-hatting his current job as the Department of Defense’s Deputy Chief Management Officer, at least in the short-term. It remains to be seen if, also like Carson, he’ll wind up stepping out of his old job in order to focus on his new one.
 
On a lighter note, this week also saw nominations for three Assistant Secretary positions at the Department of Education. Matthew Lehrich, Amy McIntosh, and Ann Whalen were named as Obama’s picks for Assistant Secretaries of Communications and Outreach, Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, and Elementary and Secondary Education, respectively. Lehrich currently serves as Education’s main Communications Director, a job he’s held since February; he was previously a Senior Advisor to Secretary Arne Duncan. McIntosh already heads up the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development as Acting Assistant Secretary, although she’s usually emphasized as the Principal Deputy. Ann Whalen is a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Education, a role where she’s advised both Duncan and his successor, current Secretary John King. Of the three, Lehrich graduated from Boston University, McIntosh graduated from both Harvard College and Harvard Business School, and Whalen graduated from Stanford.

 

 

April 7, 2016

This Week: Changes at DHA, DOS, and NASA

Jonathan Woodson announced his intention to step down as Assistant Secretary of Defense this week, closing up shop after more than five years as head of the military’s healthcare systems. Woodson first took office back in January 2011 after an eight month slog through the Senate. He soon found himself at the forefront of the transition from DOD’s old TRICARE Management Activity to its current Defense Health Agency, a change that will likely be his legacy as Assistant Secretary. Woodson actually served as TRICARE’s director, in addition to his duties as Assistant Secretary, for a period of about two years, ending with the October 2013 changeover. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, he had a lengthy military career, which included numerous hospital and brigade commands, as well as a stint as Associate Dean of the School of Medicine at Boston University. He graduated from the City College of New York and the Army War College, as well as earning his medical doctorate at New York University. Woodson leaves office on May 1st; no replacement has been announced as of this writing.

Also happening this week was the replacement of Todd Stern by Jonathan Pershing, who took office as the newly appointed Special Envoy for Climate Change at the Department of State. Pershing comes to State from the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis at the Department of Energy, where he served as Principal Deputy Director. This isn’t Pershing’s first time with State; he’s bounced around the Obama Administration since he joined back in 2009. His first post was actually as Todd Stern’s Deputy before he moved over to the US Global Change Research Program, where he served as the State Representative. More recently, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary in the office of Climate Change Policy and Technology. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Pershing served for his six years as Director of Climate Change Programs at the World Resources Institute. Before that, he served as Director of the Environment Program at the International Energy Agency. His main claim to fame through it all was the role he played as a negotiator for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. He graduated from Queens College in 1981 and earned his doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1990.

This week also featured a retirement announcement from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s John Grunsfeld, who heads up the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. Effective at the end of this month, Grunsfeld will close out a career spanning four decades with the world’s premier space agency. For seventeen years, Grunsfeld was a member of the Astronaut Office; he took part in five space missions, including several visits to Hubble and one of the final space shuttle flights back in 2009. He also oversaw nearly a hundred science missions, ranging from asteroid exploration to space weather strategy development, among other things. Prior to his current position as Associate Administrator, he served as NASA’s Chief Scientist, and before that he was both the chief and an instructor at the Astronaut Office’sExtravehicular Activity Branch. Earlier still, he was chief of the office’s Computer Support Branch. He graduated from MIT in 1980, earned his graduate degree at the University of Chicago in 1984, and later earned his doctorate there in 1988.Department of Education, Hunter Reed will serve as Deputy Under Secretary to Ted Mitchell, making her one of the nation’s top officials on all things higher ed. Her new appointment goes into effect early next week.

 

 

March 31, 2016

This Week: Changes at CENTCOM and SOCOM 

It was a big week for the military as the leadership of US Central Command and US Special Operations Command both changed hands. Army General Lloyd J. Austin retired, ending a long, distinguished career in the shadow of a still-ongoing revolt among CENTCOM’s intelligence analysts. While Austin’s latter years as a general staff officer were mostly defined by caution and restraint, the writing was on the wall for his retirement starting late last year with a disastrous testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the Pentagon’s train and equip program. His situation wasn’t helped much by the aforementioned revolt, which concerned accusations of doctored intelligence reports. His replacement, fellow Army General Joseph Leonard Votel, comes to CENTCOM from a career in and around special forces operations. He inherits a CENTCOM in transition and more than a little disarray – the intelligence debacle hasn’t been sorted out yet and there’s always the looming prospect of escalation in Iraq or Syria. Votel himself was replaced by newly frocked Army General Raymond A. Thomas III, who until recently served as the head of Joint Special Operations Command. Thomas’s own replacement has yet to be announced, and may not be for a while, but all signs point to it being the recently promoted Army Lieutenant General Austin Scott Miller, who recently swapped out of his command post at the US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, handing it off to Brigadier General Eric Wesley just three days after Wesley was named to the job.

 
This week also saw a major announcement coming out of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: David Medine, the board’s very first chairman, will be stepping down in early July to pursue undisclosed opportunities in the private sector. Medine was first confirmed back in May of 2013 by a near-party-line vote after a six month nomination process. He came to the board as a former partner with the DC office of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. Prior to that, he was best known as a Senior Advisor on the National Economic Council. Earlier in his career, Medine served as an Associate Director of Financial Practices with the Federal Trade Commission and as a partner with Hogan and Hartson LLP. He graduated from Hampshire College in 1975 and earned his JD at the University of Chicago in 1978. His departure, coupled with the current re-nomination of Member James Xavier Dempsey, leaves the often embattled board’s future in doubt – it actually ceased to exist for almost five years before President Obama revived it, and it was effectively non-functioning for most of a year before Medine’s confirmation.

 

Lastly, Kim Hunter Reed jumped up from state to federal government this week. Previously the Chief of Staff for the State of Louisiana’s Board of Regents, Hunter Reed spent most of the past two years catching her breath in the private sector before joining the gubernatorial transition team of John Bel Edwards late last year. Prior to those positions, she served as Executive Vice President of the University of Louisiana System, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Kathleen Blanco, and Public Affairs Deputy Commissioner. In her new job at the Department of Education, Hunter Reed will serve as Deputy Under Secretary to Ted Mitchell, making her one of the nation’s top officials on all things higher ed. Her new appointment goes into effect early next week.

 

March 24, 2016

This Week: Flag and general officer nominations and promotions

It was a big week in defense as several flag and general officers were nominated, promoted, and in one ignoble case, sacked. The Air Force’s Lt. Gen. John Hesterman was fired from his post as Assistant Vice Chief of Staff and Director of Air Staff – effectively the #3 military position in the entire Air Force – for conduct unbecoming of an officer. While he was going down for the count, another Air Force officer was making history. General Lori Robinson, the fourth woman to ever attain a four-star rank, has been nominated to oversee US Northern Command and NORAD, making her the first woman ever to have a shot at leading one of the Department of Defense’s six combatant commands, each of which is considered a stepping stone to becoming one of the Joint Chiefs. Robinson’s fellow four-star, Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, was also named for a new post this week. If confirmed, she’ll move from being Vice Chief of Naval Operations to Commander of Naval Forces Europe, a jump that not only guarantees her retirement as an admiral but also sets her up to take over a combatant command herself. Other confirmations this week included Army General Joseph Votel to lead US Central Command, as well as Lt. Gen. Raymond Thomas to succeed Votel as head of Special Operations Command. On the civilian side of things, Janine Davidson was confirmed as the new Under Secretary of the Navy, finally putting in place a permanent successor to Robert Work nearly two years after he stepped up to become Deputy Secretary of Defense.

 
This week also saw a high-level departure at the Department of Transportation. Nearly seven years after joining the Obama Administration, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs Susan L. Kurland is stepping down for a new job with the City of Chicago’s Department of Aviation. Kurland first came on board back in August of 2009, joining the government after a number of years in the private sector. She served as Managing Director of Jefferies & Company, a subsidiary of the Jefferies Group, as well as Deputy General Counsel and Vice President at US Airways. Before going into the private sector, she served as Deputy Corporation Counsel with Chicago’s Law Department, and General Counsel for the city’s Department of Aviation. She graduated from Brandeis and Boston University.

Rounding out the week, Federal Trade Commission member Julie Brill also announced her intention to resign, effective at the end of the month. Almost six years to the day after joining the Obama Administration, Brill is returning to private practice as a Partner and Co-Director for Privacy and Cybersecurity at Hogan Lovells. Her last jaunt through the private sector was in the late 1980s, when she served as an Associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison. In between, Brill was best known for her stints as an Assistant Attorney General with the Consumer Protection Division of the State of Vermont and as a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School. She also served as Vice-Chair of the Consumer Protection Committee of the American Bar Association. Brill got her start as a Law Clerk on the sidelines of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont, way back when she was fresh out of New York University Law School in 1985. Brill graduated from Princeton in 1981

 

March 17, 2016

This Week:  Marco Rubio suspends campaign after Florida loss


Marco Rubio finally threw in the towel this week, narrowing the Republican primary field down to just Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, and Governor John Kasich, with Trump poised to win the whole thing. The junior senator from Florida managed to unseat Jeb Bush as the party establishment’s pick a scant four months ago, but the sudden influx of donations, endorsements, and general support just wasn’t enough to salvage his campaign. Rubio exits a distant third, having won only two states and having lost his native Florida by nearly twenty points. With his senate career already on the rocks – he declared his intention to retire last year and it’s already too late in the game to try and change his mind – Rubio faces an uncertain future likely to be marked by at least a year or two of trying to rebuild his image in the private sector. With Rubio out, the party establishment now has to face some very uncomfortable choices, many of which involve trying to force a brokered convention or accepting the insurgent Trump as the party’s flag bearer for November. It’d seem logical for them to support Kasich, who pulled off the only non-Trump win of the night in his native Ohio, but Kasich is hardly a blip on Trump’s radar. The only other option at this point is Cruz, who has a long record of butting heads with his party and making some very public enemies in the process. Either way, it looks like Trump is going to be the nominee and he’s probably going to be taking on Hillary Clinton in the general; she made a clean enough sweep on Tuesday that Sanders will have to win at least 60% of the remaining delegates to beat her – unlikely, to put it kindly.

This week also saw Brad Carson, Obama’s pick to be Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, declaring his intention to leave the Department of Defense after nearly nine months of slogging through the Senate and more time still spent performing the duties of that position. Carson previously served as the Under Secretary of the Army under John McHugh, and tried to jump ship not long after his old boss left. For about two months, he was actually dual-hatting as both Under Secretary of the Army and Under Secretary of Defense, stepping down from the Army gig when Eric Fanning took over. Not long after that, Carson’s nomination stalled in the Senate. More recently, he had to step down as Acting Under Secretary while continuing to perform the duties of the job in a lesser role, which also coincided with a similar move by fellow nominee Eric Fanning, who’s currently stuck waiting for confirmation as Secretary of the Army. As with Fanning, most of the objection to Carson seemed to be more personal than substantial – for all the flak he got during his disastrous visit to Capitol Hill, relatively few of his policy decisions were directly criticized. Carson’s nomination hasn’t been officially withdrawn as of this writing, but it probably won’t be long before the paperwork cycles through. Prior to joining the Department of the Army as General Counsel back in 2012, Carson was best known for his four years in the United States House of Representatives. He made a failed bid at Oklahoma’s open senate seat in 2004. Earlier in his career, he worked at the Clinton Department of Defense as a Special Assistant, served as both an Adjunct Law Professor and Associate Professor at the University of Tulsa, and had a private practice. He graduated from Baylor, Oxford, and Oklahoma.

And on a lighter note, John King successfully made it through the Senate this week, clearing what was expected to be a year-long brawl of a nomination in barely a month. He now formally takes office as head of the Department of Education succeeding Arne Duncan as the nation’s top teacher. King first joined the department in 2014 as a Senior Advisor to Secretary Duncan, later playing a game of musical chairs for several months as Duncan headed for the door and the Obama administration mulled the possibility of nominating him. He first took over the duties of Deputy Secretary after James Shelton left in late 2015, then took over the duties of Acting Secretary of Education after Duncan left; for a little while, at least, he was actually doing both. With his confirmation, King handed off the Deputy Secretary job to James Cole and settled into his new, full-time gig as Secretary. Prior to joining the department, he was best known for his years in the New York State Education Department, where he served on a number of commissions. He was also the head and founder of several education nonprofits. He graduated Harvard, Columbia, and Yale, returning to Columbia later on to earn his doctorate.

 

March 10, 2016

This Week:  Republican Establishment begins to move to Cruz

It was a rough week for Marco Rubio as Donald Trump crushed him in multiple primaries and Ted Cruz started sidling up to the very Establishment supporters that he’s relying on to stay in the race. Cruz picked up the quiet Bush brother, Neil, as a member of his finance team, and then nabbed an endorsement from former competitor Carly Fiorina. On Tuesday night, Cruz was the only candidate to beat Trump in any state, preventing the current frontrunner from making a clean sweep; he won Idaho convincingly, barely edged out John Kasich for the number two spot in Michigan, and held second place comfortably in both Hawaii and Mississippi. Rubio, by comparison, only finished in third place in Hawaii and Michigan; he was dead last in Mississippi and Idaho. Rubio still has a lock on third place nationally, bolstered by his recent win in Puerto Rico, but many are calling Florida his make-or-break point and Trump is currently clobbering him in polls there. Ohio Governor John Kasich is likewise hanging on for dear life. His 54 delegates might help make for a brokered convention if Trump isn’t able to secure a solid majority, but calls for him to drop out will probably intensify if he can’t win his home state. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders pulled off a narrow upset in Michigan, but still looks set to lose the race against Hillary Clinton in the long term. Not only will Michigan’s delegates be split up almost evenly, but Clinton crushed him in a landslide down in Mississippi. Clinton has held a lead of about two hundred delegates for much of the race, not counting superdelegates, and while Sanders consistently beats her among youth voters, Clinton is winning with most of the other groups that make up the base of the Democratic Party.
 
Outside of elections, the biggest newsmaker this week was Therese McMillan, who formally withdrew her nomination to be head of the Federal Transit Administration after more than a year and a half of being stuck in the Senate. McMillan was first nominated back in July 2014 to replace her old boss, Peter Rogoff. That was also about the same time she started her tenure as Acting Administrator – one of many such acting nominees that were, until very recently, an uncontroversial way of keeping the lights on during the Senate confirmation process. Prior to her stint as Acting Administrator, McMillan was the agency’s Deputy Administrator, a position she held for almost five and a half years. Before that, she was best known for the twenty-five years she spent working on transportation issues in California. Her first big job was as the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Manager for Finance, which later included additional duties managing External Affairs. She also spent nearly eight years as the Deputy Executive Director of Policy, jumping off only to join the Obama Administration back in 2009. McMillan returns to California at the end of the month, where she’s slated to become Chief of Real Property Management and Development with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. McMillan graduated from UC Davis in 1980 and UC Berkeley in 1983.
 
As McMillan’s confirmation quest was drawing to a close, others had only just begun. Dr. Christopher Brummer and Brian Quintenz both had their nominations finally reach the Senate record this week, with both men being named to seats on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Brummer is a career academic for the most part – he got his start as an Associate with Cravath, Swaine, and Moore LLP back in 2004, then jumped to Vanderbilt University in 2006. Brummer jumped from Vanderbilt to Georgetown University in 2009, where he became a Professor of Law and Faculty Director for the Institute of International Economic Law, positions he still holds as of this writing. In the interim, he held a variety of fellowships and visiting professorships with other schools and organizations like the Atlantic Council and theMilken Institute, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission. Quintenz is almost his opposite number career-wise – he’s been in the private and public sector for most of his career. He got his start with the Presidential Exploratory Committee of Congressman John Kasich back in 1999, stuck with the congressman’s office until 2001, and then jumped ship over to the Office of Representative Deborah Pryce (R-OH), where he stayed until 2007, ultimately rising to the role of Senior Policy Advisor. Quintenz took a few years off before joining the private sector at Hill-Townsend Capital LLC, where he served as an Analyst and later as a Senior Associate. He currently works as Founder, Managing Principal, and Chief Investment Officer of Saeculum Capital Management LLC, a risk management-focused investment firm he founded in 2013. Quintenz graduated from Duke and Georgetown University. Brummer graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Columbia University Law School, and earned his PhD at the University of Chicago. 

 

 

 

March 3, 2016

This Week:  Trump and Clinton win big on Super Tuesday

Campaigns again took center stage this week as Democrats and Republicans battled it out internally for Super Tuesday. Current frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both scored seven-state wins, with Clinton crushing Sanders for six of hers and Trump scoring solid pluralities in five of his. Bernie Sanders barely lost Massachusetts but convincingly won Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and his home state of Vermont. Ted Cruz won three states, including Texas, and Marco Rubio finally took home a win in Minnesota. Barring upsets or campaign disasters, it’s already looking like Clinton and Trump will go at it in the general, with everybody else eking out just enough support to justify hanging on a while longer – everyone but Ben Carson, at least. Carson failed to win or place in the top three in any states. The very next day, Carson seemingly threw in the towel and withdrew from Thursday’s GOP debate, citing the lack of a ‘political path forward’ after Super Tuesday. His official statement left some room for doubt though, and Carson appears to have one last speech to make at this year’s CPAC before he can be counted out for sure. His likely departure leaves John Kasich as the fourth man in what’s barely a three-way race; lagging in most polls, but still able to put up a fight in the kinds of places that Ted Cruz has trouble with. It’s probably also worth noting that Rubio lost his communications director Tuesday afternoon, as Micah Johnson returned to the Office of Senator Bob Corker (R-TN); not a very good sign for the Establishment favorite.
 
It was also a momentous week for US Forces – Afghanistan, as Army General John Campbell stepped down and retired following about two years near the front lines of America’s longest war. Campbell previously served as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army from 2013 to 2014, and was one of the odds-on favorites to succeed his old boss, General Ray Odierno, when he neared retirement last year. Unless there’s another round of mission creep or an unexpected emergency of some kind, Campbell’s successor, Army General John W. Nicholson Jr., will probably be the last four-star officer to command American forces in Afghanistan. Nicholson will oversee a force of about 14,000 troops, a shadow of the 101,000 troops present during the peak of American operations. Nicholson previously served as the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne, a position he held for two years. His father, John W. Nicholson Sr., is a retired Army brigadier general who served as an Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs in the George W. Bush Administration. His uncle, R. James Nicholson, is a former ambassador who served as Bush’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs; he’s currently a Senior Counsel with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP. Nicholson Jr. graduated from West Point in 1982.
 
This week was also a roller coaster ride for the Department of Veterans Affairs, where several senior medical center staffers were shuffled around due to alleged misconduct, a Veterans Integrated Service Network director retired to avoid being fired, and a new Principal Deputy Under Secretary was appointed at the Veterans Health Administration. Former Major General Richard A. Stone comes to the VA from Booz Allen Hamilton, where he served for two years as a principal following his retirement from the US Army Reserve. His final assignment was a dual-hat role – Deputy Surgeon General of the Army and Deputy Commanding General for Support at US Army Medical Command. Stone graduated from Western Michigan in 1973, Wayne State University in 1977, and later earned an advanced degree from the Army War College. He takes office as the right-hand man to David J. Shulkin, the Under Secretary for Health.

 

 

February 25, 2016

This Week:  Jeb Bush suspends his presidential campaign 

After months of low poll numbers and poor finishes in every one of the big three early primary states, Jeb Bush finally bowed out of the race for the Republican nomination on Saturday. His suspension speech marked the end of a campaign that started on top of the world with high poll numbers, ringing endorsements, and a staggering super PAC, only to start collapsing almost immediately. Gaffe-prone and rusty after spending most of the last decade in the private sector, Bush tried to run a positive, upbeat, sometimes moderate campaign in a year of vengeful outsider candidates and bombastic rhetoric. On the occasions when he tried to cut loose and join the rest of the pack, he never managed to stand out. Whenever he tried to carve out a moderate stance on anything, he got burned for it. It’s hard to nail down exactly when his campaign went terminal, especially with Donald Trump’s constant attacks, but it was probably the moment when his old protégé, Marco Rubio, outflanked him in a debate and began locking down the support of the Establishment that Bush was so reliant upon. Bush’s departure leaves John Kasich as the last governor standing in the entire race, having outlasted not only Bush, but also Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki, as well as Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee on the Democratic side. The Republican race now boils down to a three-way brawl between frontrunner Donald Trump and first-term senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, with Kasich poised to swoop in and replace Rubio if his campaign goes off the rails. Ben Carson is also hanging on as of this writing, although it seems less and less likely by the day that he’ll be able to recover his prior frontrunner status, much less finish anywhere in the top three.

Outside of campaign season, this week was busy for the federal government as a whole, with no fewer than four major CIO moves. At the Office of Personnel Management, Donna K. Seymour ended a tenure of about three years on a low note, resigning just two days before she was scheduled to testify before Congress about last year’s infamous data thefts. At the Department of Education, longtime CIO Danny Harris announced his intention to step down after almost eight years on the job, possibly connected to health issues after being grilled by lawmakers over cybersecurity. His deputy, Steve Grewal, will take over in March. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, Deputy CIO Art Gonzalez is stepping down after about two and a half years, to be replaced by Susan McHugh-Polley in early March. Lastly, Darren B. Ash is making the jump from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the Farm Service Agency, effectively trading one CIO hat for another in the process. Ash has the distinction of being one of the only federal CIOs to have served at his job longer than Danny Harris; he took office way back in 2007.

Lastly, this week saw the confirmation of Dr. Robert McKinnon Califf to serve as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, bringing to an end a six month grind through the Senate, wherein Califf faced serious bipartisan opposition, especially from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Most of Sanders’ objections stemmed from Califf’s close ties to the pharmaceutical industry, but they apparently weren’t enough to stop the new commissioner from getting an 89-4 pass when his nomination finally made it to the floor. Califf previously served as the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco, a position he took early last year. Prior to that, he was best known for the years he spent in academia, especially his tenure as Associate Vice Chancellor and then Vice Chancellor of Clinical Research at Duke University. Califf graduated from Duke twice, earning his bachelor of science in 1973 and his medical doctorate in 1978.

 

 

February 18, 2016

This Week:  Presidential race speeds up for Clinton, Cruz, Kasich and Trump

Friday ended up being huge for the State Department as Senator Ted Cruz lifted his holds on six nominees, all of whom were confirmed before the morning was out. The five newly confirmed ambassadors – Azita Raji, Samuel D. Heins, John L. Estrada, Thomas A. Shannon Jr., and David McKean – join Scot Alan Marciel, who was confirmed earlier in the week. The sixth Friday confirmation, Brian Egan, will go on to become Legal Adviser to the Department of State as a whole. Prior to confirmation, Egan served as a Deputy Counsel to President Obama. Earlier in his career, Egan was the Assistant General Counsel for Enforcement and Intelligence at the Department of the Treasury. Prior to that, he was an Associate Counsel with the White House. He first joined the Obama Administration back in 2009, serving as a Deputy Legal Adviser on the National Security Staff. Before Obama, he served at George W. Bush’s Department of State, where he was an Attorney-Advisor in the very office that he’s now confirmed to lead. Egan got his start doing five years as an Associate with Goodwin Procter. He graduated from Stanford and UC Berkeley.
 
It was also a big week for the Department of Education, as President Obama finally got around to nominating Dr. John B. King Jr. as Secretary of Education, completing a selection process that began in earnest with the December retirement of Arne Duncan. King’s nomination is a long shot given the current environment on Capitol Hill, and it might get even bumpier with the recent trend against acting nominees. Starting with Eric Fanning at the Department of the Army and continuing with Beth Cobert at the Office of Personnel Management, there seems to be a growing pushback against the administration’s ability to make use of qualified personnel while their nominations are pending. Given the long-term difficulty that the administration has faced in filling a significant number of mid- and high-level positions, it remains to be seen how this will affect government as a whole. King himself previously served as Senior Advisor to Secretary Duncan while performing the duties of Deputy Secretary of Education. Prior to that, he was best known for his time in the New York State Education System, where he served a combined six years in as many offices and commissions. Prior to that, he had a short stint as a Fellow with the Aspen Institute’s New Schools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program, along with about eight years with Uncommon Schools, where he variously served as a charter school co-founder, managing director, and co-director. King graduated from Harvard, Columbia, and Yale.
 
And in campaign news, long shot candidate Jim Gilmore finally called it quits after back-to-back disappointments in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Where other candidates, like the recently dropped Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie, struggled to gain traction in this campaign season, Gilmore struggled just to get name recognition. It wasn’t hard to guess that he’d be withdrawing from the race after Iowa, where he racked up an abysmal twelve votes out of the more than hundred thousand that were cast that night. Gilmore returns to private life, but the race for the White House continues to pick up speed: Clinton, Cruz, Kasich and Trump all made high-level hires this week, including a digital director and a social media outreach director.

 

 

February 11, 2016

This Week:  The race is over for Christie and Florina
 
Chris Christie suspended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, a day after finishing in sixth place in the New Hampshire primary. New Hampshire is known for its relatively moderate Republican electorate, and Christie concluded that since he could not perform well there, he was unlikely to do so anywhere else. Christie had been harshly attacking Marco Rubio in the days leading up to the primary. At Saturday’s debate, he succeeded in rattling him, contributing to Rubio’s disappointing fifth place finish in New Hampshire. However, while his attacks weakened Rubio, they did not translate into votes for Christie. In the end, Christie’s charisma and strong debate performances were not enough for him to break through in a field led by an even bigger personality – Donald Trump. He returns home to New Jersey, where his term as governor expires in January 2018.
 
Carly Fiorina also announced on Wednesday that she will be suspending her campaign. She finished seventh in New Hampshire, behind Christie, receiving 4.1% of the vote. Fiorina has faded from the headlines in recent months after a couple strong debate performances last fall and summer. Her poll numbers peaked after a debate in which she had a memorable clash with Donald Trump, but since then she has been relegated to the “undercard” debates and her campaign failed to gain traction.
 
In other campaign news, Rand Paul’s former campaign manager, Chip Englander, has joined Marco Rubio for President as a senior political advisor. He will be focused on the Midwest. Englander managed Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s campaign, and is currently a senior advisor at Michael Best Strategies.
  
Also this week, the Senate confirmed Lieutenant General John “Mick” Nicholson as Commander of U.S. Forces -Afghanistan. He has had a long military career, most recently serving as NATO’s Commander of Allied Land Command, based in Turkey. Nicholson also served as Commanding General of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Divisionfrom 2012-2014. He will be replacing General John Campbell, who has been Commander in Afghanistan since 2014. The transition date has not yet been announced. Nicholson earned Bachelor’s degrees from Georgetown University and West Point, and Master’s degrees from the School of Advanced Military Studies and the National Defense University.

 

 

February 4, 2016

Iowa Caucus Results
It was a barnburner of a week for elections, and not a good one if you happened to be leading in the polls. With a near-flawless ground game and heavy support from evangelicals, Ted Cruz managed a not-quite-unpredicted upset against Donald Trump in Iowa for the Republican Caucus, while Hillary Clinton barely eked out a win over insurgent candidate Bernie Sanders in the neighboring Democratic Caucus – a race so close it was determined by coin tosses in several districts.
 
The fallout from Iowa was immediate and overwhelming: The campaigns of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, both of whom had been short-term frontrunners back in 2008 and 2012, respectively, finally called it quits after months of lagging in the polls. Rand Paul, himself an insurgent who once stood enough of a chance to threaten the GOP’s foreign policy establishment, also closed shop the following day, presumably to focus more on his struggling Senate campaign.
 
On the Democratic side, former Maryland Governor and resident moderate everyman Martin O’Malley also gave up the ghost following months of poor polling and a night where he failed to capture more than .6% of the vote – not a typo. While Clinton made history as the first woman to win an Iowa Caucus, Marco Rubio appears to have been the big winner of the night – he came within a one-point striking distance of Trump and has emerged as the Establishment candidate. If Bush, Christie, and Kasich all drop in the near future, he’s the odds-on favorite to pick up their support. Eyes have already fallen on the Carson campaign as being especially vulnerable thanks to its multiple shake-ups, tragedies, and poor performance in the actual Iowa Caucus. As of this writing, it remains to be seen who else, if anyone at all, will drop before the next round of voting on February 9th.
 
Last week the Inspector Generals of both the Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. Postal Serviceannounced their resignations. Patrick McFarland’s last day as OPM’s IG will be February 16th. He has held the position since 1990. Prior to that, he had a 22 year career with the Secret Service. McFarland has a Master’s degree from American University and a Bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University. His deputy, Norbert Vint, will serve as acting IG. David C. Williams will be departing the U.S. Postal Service on February 19th. He has served as IG since 2003. He was also IG for the Social Security Administration and the Department of the Treasury, among other agencies. He began his career with the federal government as a Secret Service agent. He received a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois and a Bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University. Deputy IG Tammy Whitcomb will take over as acting IG.
 
Katie Beirne Fallon, President Obama’s Director of Legislative Affairs, announced last week that she will be leaving her position. She has been in this job since 2013, when she was tasked with improving the fraught relationship between the White House and Capitol Hill.  Fallon developed a close relationship with the president, who credits her with helping to protect the Iranian nuclear deal and renewing the Export-Import Bank, among other victories. She worked as Senator Chuck Schumer’s Legislative Director from 2008-2011 and as Staff Director for the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center from 2011 to 2013. Fallon will be replaced by her deputy, Amy Rosenbaum, who formerly worked for Nancy Pelosi. Rosenbaum had previously covered Fallon’s duties while Fallon was on leave in 2015. Fallon holds Masters degrees from the London School of Economics and Queens University Belfast, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.

 

 

January 28, 2016

This Week: Deputy Secretary of Agriculture to resign her post in February
 
The Senate confirmed Lisa Disbrow as Under Secretary of the Air Force last week before heading out of town as the snow storm approached. Disbrow had been serving as Acting Under Secretary since April 2015 and was officially nominated in September. She is a retired Air Force Colonel who has had a long career in Washington, most recently serving as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller. She is a Middle East specialist, and served as Special Advisor for Policy Implementation and Execution in the National Security Council of the Bush Administration from 2006-2007. Disbrow received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 1984 and holds two Masters degrees, from George Washington University and the National War College.                                                                                                                     
Additionally, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, President Obama’s longest serving cabinet member, is losing a member of his original team. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden will be leaving her position at the end of February. Harden joined the Department of Agriculture in May 2009 as Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations. She served as Vilsack’s chief of staff from January 2011 to August 2013 before assuming her current position as Deputy Secretary. Harden has a deep personal connection to agriculture, coming from three generation of Georgia farmers. Her tenure at USDA has been particularly focused on increasing farm ownership among women, young people, and veterans. She has not announced where she is headed next.
 
In other news, Brown University President Christina Paxson has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. She will serve on the nine person board as one of three Class B directors, who are selected by the member banks to represent the general public. She will serve a three year term on the Board, with the possibility of a second term. In addition to serving as Brown’s president since 2012, Paxson is also a professor of economics and public policy. She began her career teaching at Princeton, where she served as Chair of the Department of Economics in 2008 before becoming Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 2009. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and her Master’s degree and doctoral degree from  Columbia University. 


 

January 21, 2016

This Week:  On the campaign trail, support for Ted Cruz surges in Iowa
 
It’s been a bad couple of weeks for the Carson America campaign, which has recently suffered from several high-profile defections, the tragic loss of several volunteers, and slumping poll numbers. The latest body blow to the Carson campaign came when Dean Parker, the National Finance Chair, announced his resignation last Thursday. While there’s still a chance that Carson can rally in time for the Iowa Caucus, it’s beginning to look like the writing is on the wall for the one-time frontrunner. His campaign has largely fallen by the wayside as media’s attention shifts to Ted Cruz, who is now surging in Iowa and stands a very good chance of becoming the eventual nominee. The contest appears to be a brawl between current frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, with Marco Rubio as a possible wild card. Rubio has emerged as a potential replacement for Jeb Bush, with media touting as the Republican Establishment’s best chance of seizing a victory in the primary campaign. Even so, his chances aren’t exactly golden right now – Bush is still in the race, for better or worse, and he’s tying up the majority of Rubio’s would-be supporters, while Rubio himself still lags far behind both Cruz and Trump. At this point, Rubio could inherit supporters from both Bush and Chris Christie, generally regarded as the other establishment pick, and would probably still fall well below either of the two frontrunners in support among primary voters. There’s still one debate to go, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether it will have any effect at all by the time Iowans go to caucus on February 1st.
 
This week also saw a resignation announcement from one of the Obama Administration’s most important legal figures: Deborah Leff, the attorney charged with handling the presidential pardon process, is stepping down at the end of the month. A former Senior Producer at ABC, Leff joined the administration back in 2010 as an Acting Senior Counselor for the Access to Justice Initiative. From 2014 to June of last year, she served as Acting Pardon Attorney, just before taking up the job for real. Earlier in her career, she worked as a Trial Attorney for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Leff has also held senior executive appointments with the Federal Trade CommissionNational Women’s Political CaucusThe Joyce FoundationJohn F. Kennedy Library & Museum, and the Public Welfare Foundation. She graduated from Princeton in 1973 and earned her JD at Chicago in 1977.

 

 

January 14, 2016

This Week: Acting Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning leaves post 

It was a rough week for trailblazer and would-be Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning. After just a month and a half as Acting Secretary, Fanning was effectively forced to step aside from his position in order to address concerns from Senate Republicans, particularly Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who took issue with Fanning’s acting appointment and threatened to halt his confirmation bid, if not end it outright in committee. While Fanning dedicates himself to a full-time pursuit of his nomination and, hopefully, confirmation as the nation’s first openly gay military secretary, former congressman and noted LGBT ally Patrick Murphy will serve as Acting Secretary of the Army. Murphy himself was recently confirmed to serve as the Army’s Under Secretary and Chief Management Officer, the last position Fanning had acted in prior to his own ascent to Acting Secretary. While staffers are currently reviewing the calendar for hearings and an up-or-down vote to get Fanning through the Armed Services Committee, it remains to be seen how well he’ll fare if and when he makes it to the Senate floor. For better or worse, his appointment – or lack thereof – will make history, and there are a lot of powerful, vested interests lined up both for and against him. In the meantime, it’s possible that he’ll either return to Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s office or serve as an advisor, officially or otherwise, to Acting Secretary Murphy. 
 
It was a better week for Robert L. Nabors, Chief of Staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs. On Monday, Nabors announced his departure from government, effective January 15, in pursuit of a job opportunity with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he’ll serve as Director of Policy and Government Affairs. Nabors departs the VA after a little over a year all total; he became Secretary Bob McDonald’s Chief of Staff back in May, but he first joined the department back in 2014 as a communications troubleshooter during the fallout from the wait-time scandal, among others. Prior to that, Nabors served with the Obama White House for the better part of five years, including stints as Director of Legislative Affairs and then as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy. Earlier in his career, Nabors was a congressional staffer, rising to the position of Staff Director for the House Committee on Appropriations. Prior to his time with Congress, Nabors was best known for his years with the Clinton Administration, where he rose to the position of Assistant Director for Administration and Executive Secretary at the Office of Management and Budget. Nabors graduated from Notre Dame in 1993 and North Carolina in 1996. He is the son of retired Army Major General Robert L. Nabors.

 

 

 

January 7, 2016

This Week: Meaghan Rose Smith to join private sector's SKDKnickerbocker

Angela Bailey kicked the New Year off with a bang as she announced her transition from Chief Operating Officer of the Office of Personnel Management to Chief Human Capital Officer of the Department of Homeland Security, effective January 8th. The move represents Bailey’s first agency jump since she joined OPM back in 2008, when she took a position as Deputy Associate Director for Recruitment and Hiring in OPM’s Employee Services section.  She later moved up to Associate Director for Employee Services and Chief Human Capital Officer, a position she held for about two years or so, before taking on her current job as COO. Prior to joining OPM, Bailey worked as the Executive Director for Human Resources at the Defense Contract Management Agency, a support agency with the Department of Defense. Before that, she held a variety of different positions, including Labor Relations Officer and Budget Analyst, and prior to that she worked with the Social Security Administration, where she got her start right out of high school as a clerk back in the summer of 1981. She officially joined the Senior Executive Service in 2007. Bailey earned both her bachelor and graduate degrees at Bellevue University.
 
The New Year also saw the continuation of the Obama Administration’s brain drain, as Meaghan Rose Smith became the latest public relations official to cash out in pursuit of a job in the private sector. Smith currently serves as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. In February, she’ll become one of many Obama public affairs staffers to join SKDKnickerbocker, a political consulting firm with a focus on international companies, associations, non-profits, and advocacy groups. Smith previously served as the Communications Director for Health Care, Policy, and Strategy in her current office. Before joining HHS, she was best known for a lengthy stint as a Congressional staffer, both in the House and Senate. Most recently she worked as Communications Director in the Office of Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). Prior to that she was Deputy Communications Director for the Senate Committee on Finance, and before that she was the committee’s Press Secretary. Before joining the Senate staff, she was Communications Director in the Office of Representative John Hall (D-NY). Earlier, she got her first big break as Hall’s Press Secretary.

It was also a week for good old fashioned campaign staff poaching as Donald Trump managed to woo a member of Ted Cruz’s New Hampshire leadership team even as Cruz himself was hiring Mike Huckabee’s Communications Director. Andrew Hemingway, a former state director for Newt Gingrich and one-time gubernatorial candidate, will serve as a Co-Chair for Trump’s New Hampshire operations. Alice Stewart, who first made a name for herself as press secretary for Huckabee back when he was Governor of Arkansas, will serve as Cruz’s National Spokesperson. The Huckabee campaign itself isn’t doing too well, coming in at about 1% in recent polls, and the former governor himself has stated his intention to close up shop if he isn’t in the top three in Iowa when the votes roll in on February 1st. Between that and the recent shutdowns of the Graham and Pataki campaigns, it seems as though the Republican field is finally starting to narrow towards a final ten, if not a final four. Incidentally, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson tossed his hat in the ring this week, announcing his second campaign bid for the White House as a Libertarian candidate. It’s possible that the winnowing of the GOP field might free up some space for candidates outside of it, but Johnson has a long shot to even make it on television, let alone join the eventual debate between the Democratic and Republican nominees.