Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics who resigned in protest under President Donald Trump, has been a dogged critic of the administration as it flagrantly defies basic standards of behavior for the executive branch. And in a new Twitter thread on Friday, Shaub combed through the new list of White House staff salaries — which show that not only do violations not trigger punishments, but they don’t even hinder raises.
He pointed out, for instance, that newly named White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham — who used to do PR for the first lady — got a promotion and raise, despite having violated the Hatch Act.
But Grisham is still in the junior varsity league when it comes to violating the Hatch Act. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, on the other hand, has gone pro — she seems to think violating the law, which bars federal employees from electioneering, is part of her job. Trump’s own appointee to the Office of Special Counsel called for her firing, saying her brazen violations of the law were “unprecedented.”
But Trump didn’t fire her. In fact, as Shaub pointed out, she got a raise! Just not as generous as Grisham.
Conway makes $183,000 a year, which is the salary cap for White House employees.
Madeleine Westerhout, the director of Oval Office operations, got a $15,000 raise and is now making $145,000, Shaub said. She, too, he pointed out, violated the Hatch Act, according to the Office of Special Counsel.
Shaub also noted that Mercedes Schlapp, like Conway, is making likewise making the maximum salary. This was notable, he pointed out, in light of the fact that her husband, Matt Schlapp, lobbies the Executive Office of the President. In other words, he’s getting paid to have influence over the president while his wife is working in the White House. It’s an outrageous conflict of interest, but under Trump, it’s par for the course.
Sean Doocey, who is the director of presidential personnel, overseeing recruiting and vetting for the White House, now makes $168,000. Shaub observed that while Doocey has been in the leadership of the office, it has been a site of incompetence and mismanagement. The Washington Post reported:
An obscure White House office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees has suffered from inexperience and a shortage of staff, hobbling the Trump administration’s efforts to place qualified people in key posts across government, documents and interviews show.
Every White House faces personnel challenges and includes young and politically connected employees who get jobs through friends or family and senior officials who move on to other assignments. But the shortcomings of this office, and Trump’s appointment process in general, are among the most pronounced in memory, according to presidential scholars.
“No administration has done it as poorly as the current one,” said Max Stier, president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group that teamed up with The Post to track appointments.
There are, however, two staffers listed as receiving exactly zero dollars in annual salary. That would be Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump — the president’s son-in-law and daughter.
While the U.S. government has laws against nepotism, the president used a loophole to hire the couple. They may think that taking no salaries somehow makes up for the obvious unfairness of their hiring, but it actually makes it worse. Federal employees should be financially dependent on the government, their employer, so that they’re not incentivized by other sources of money and so that their official decisions aren’t clouded by corruption. Naturally, Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s tenures at the White House — just like the president’s own term — have drawn troubling accusations of conflicts of interest.