Numerous Trump politicians had been in search of everlasting employment final yr

The number of political candidates seeking permanent positions in the final year of former President Donald Trump’s tenure was higher than those under his predecessor during the same period, according to NBC News.

Fifty-eight people appointed by the Trump administration requested conversion from January 1, 2020 to January 20, 2021, according to the records of the Office of Human Resources. Of these, 31 conversions were approved, six rejected, 15 returned or withdrawn, and six pending. During the corresponding period under former President Barack Obama (January 1, 2016 to January 20, 2017), 46 nominees requested conversion, with 36 approved, six rejected, and four returned or withdrawn.

All but one of the 13 Trump administration politicians who sought permanent public service in the weeks between the election and President Joe Biden’s inauguration were closed for the final quarter of 2020 and, according to NBC News OPM reports the first 20 days of January not approved. Five applications were withdrawn or returned, six were pending and were being examined by the OPM. By comparison, nine of the eleven Obama administration officials who applied for approval to move to public service positions between Election Day 2016 and Trump’s inauguration were approved.

At least one of these conversion attempts during this period under Trump was rejected by the OPM because the agency could not, according to the records, come to the conclusion that the attempted date was free of “political influence”.

The OPM tracks such conversion requests on a quarterly basis and then makes the information available to Congress members. NBC News previously reported on the restructuring of the Trump administration in the first three quarters of 2020.

There is nothing new about Trump’s attempts to embed political candidates in public service jobs. outgoing presidents have been doing it for years. (Officials have protection that political officials don’t, and new administrations find it harder to fire them.)

The latest revelations show the extent to which Trump’s political appointees have tried to remain in government positions over the past few months, weeks, and even days of his tenure in the office of the former president – a process some groups of government guardians have called a “digging” process. Successful conversions would give Trump a legacy of influence in parts of the federal government that would last well beyond his time in the White House.

Experts interviewed by NBC News raised concerns about the number and timing of political candidates looking to move to permanent employment, particularly after the election, and the number of candidates who previously applied for and received conversions after the election .

It is normal for some policy officers who are nearing the end of their reigns to seek greater job security in permanent positions, as do some policy officers who are passionate about the job and qualified for relevant permanent positions, say experts. But they also said that in this case the large number of conversion requests and the time after the elections, as well as the large number of rejections by the OPM, are unusual.

“You can tell from the number of non-approvals by OPM that there are a number of political representatives [who sought career jobs] This is clearly problematic, ”said Max Stier, CEO of the non-partisan partnership for the public service. “Why do these people only get into these jobs after the candidate who wanted them there loses?”

Nick Quellenbach, lead investigator on the non-partisan government oversight project, said, “This is what the people in the administration know it’s about to come to an end.

“Some of these people, either alone or at the behest of others, seek conversions so that they can stay with them.”

A Trump spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

NBC News’ latest report also included updates on previously pending switchover requests from Q3 2020.

Among these requests, a political commissioner’s conversion request was twice denied because the OPM “was unable to conclude that the appointment was free of political influence and complied with the principles of the earnings system and applicable civil service laws and regulations”.

One denial was to an unnamed political officer in the White House attorney’s office who had sought approval to convert to an ethics profession at the office of the general counsel of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a key agency that deals with U.S. derivatives options regulated and futures markets.

The other was a political officer in a Montana office of the Department of Agriculture who had applied for approval to move to another Montana office within the agency.

In both cases the names of the persons appointed have been edited.

Meanwhile, government surveillance groups have expressed concern about two people whose first moves had since been approved.

One such conversion was that of Carl Risch, whose request for conversion in October as deputy director, the No. 2, was approved by the Immigration Examination Executive Office in the Department of Justice (a public service agency) in December. Risch had been assistant secretary for consular affairs in the State Department, a political task. His new job came with a donation of $ 10,000.

It’s at least the second conversion in the last year to land at the EOIR, which conducts deportation and deportation proceedings in immigration courts nationwide.

“It’s a red flag when several people in a company are converted to jobs. That really raises bigger concerns, ”said Stier of the Civil Service Partnership. “The process is supposed to be that a political officer is in no way ahead of the competition for a career job, but when you see several people going to the same agency you really have to ask yourself how is it possible for the best to be Qualified persons are not just once, but several times persons who are politically appointed. “

Risch did not respond to multiple requests for comment. EOIR spokeswoman Kathryn Mattingly said Risch had gone through the standard pre-hire review process with the OPM and the agency approved his new position.

Another move that caught the attention of thresholdsbach, Stier, and other experts was that of Keith Gray, whose July application to become an Associate Administrator in the Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency office on January 17, just three days before leaving Trump, was approved. Gray was chief of staff for the division that helps determine farm subsidies for specific groups of farmers. His new job came with a donation of $ 26,000.

Stier referred to a specific rule for reviewing the OPM conversion, which states that a job posting “cannot be created or tailored solely to the benefit of the current or former political officer” as the reason for the conversion of Gray, who is a senior executive in the EU was divided, caught his eye.

“The fact that he gets a job in the department where he was chief of staff I don’t really know how you do that as part of the OPM review process,” he said. “I don’t know how you can be sure that it was free and fair competition for someone to throw their hat inside. On the surface it seems implausible to me that it was a free and fair competition. ”

The impartial government guard Accountable.US raised questions about Gray’s transition to a career job, citing his previous experience as a lobbyist in the agricultural industry.

Gray did not reply to multiple messages. The Ministry of Agriculture and its risk management department declined to comment.

Separately, government surveillance groups pointed to apparent ongoing attempts to embed political officials with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a central agency that governs the transmission, transportation, and sale of electricity and natural gas in interstate trade. FERC is also considering proposals to build interstate natural gas and oil pipelines.

Half of the outstanding conversions from election day to Trump’s last day in office concerned the conversion of employees in other positions in the federal government to positions in the public service at FERC.

Two applications submitted to the OPM on December 22nd and 23rd concerned conversion to “legal advisor” positions within the agency. A third, filed with the OPM on Jan. 4, was for a litigator in the FERC Legal Department.

The names of the people and their initial political appointment positions have been edited.

E&E News, a popular Politico energy magazine, reported in December that FERC had been politicized during the Trump administration. In November, Trump fired the chairman of the commission on a rare move that E&E News reported was viewed by many as retaliation for comments he made in support of climate action.

“Having political people in an agency like FERC is a big problem with real ramifications,” said Stier. “Just look at what happened in Texas,” he added, referring to the fact that warnings from FERC to Texas that the power grid would not handle a brutal cold snap went unnoticed and millions after a storm in February remained without electricity.

FERC spokeswoman Mary O’Driscoll said in a statement, “It is not uncommon for Republican or Democratic commissioners to hire current or former political representatives from other agencies as advisors.” “

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., As chairman of the House of Representatives Government Operations Subcommittee, has urged greater transparency about the number and identity of civil service moves proposed during the Trump administration.

He said the names and situations NBC News identified in recent reports demonstrate the importance of an apolitical public service to the successful functioning of the government – and called for action that further investigates all of Trump’s conversions, and possibly some of theirs Would remove jobs.

“Our country has just come out of a pandemic and further advances require a public service of dedicated, competent officials. Many of President Trump’s political appointees were openly and apologetically determined to tear down the institutions they were supposed to serve and lacked expertise, ”he said in a statement. “If they are allowed to stay in the federal government, all Americans will be injured and they will have to be removed,” he added.

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