27 September 2023

UNITED STATES: Concern at ‘burrowed’ Trump loyalist

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The Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse under the previous Administration of United States President Donald Trump is now serving as a senior Public Servant in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), sources have revealed.

Elinore McCance-Katz (pictured) sparked controversy during her time in office insisting that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic was overblown.

Sources said this was a prime example of the “burrowing” of former political appointees into the Federal bureaucracy where they could continue to shape policy.

Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Ms McCance-Katz was in a powerful position to shape polices of the current Administration of President Joe Biden, especially as Mr Biden’s nominee to run the DEA was still awaiting Senate confirmation.

The DEA said it would not comment on Ms McCance-Katz’s hiring and declined a request to make her available for an interview.

Senior Investigator at the non-Government Project On Government Oversight, Nick Schwellenbach said that while Ms McCance-Katz should not be automatically rejected for a senior Public Service position, her comments on the pandemic were concerning.

“It raises some questions about the DEA’s judgment in hiring her. While she has many impressive credentials, you don’t want a political hack in this job,” Mr Schwellenbach said.

Meanwhile, more Senators have joined a growing Congressional movement urging President Joe Biden to open up the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan have called on Mr Biden to ensure the country’s teachers, social workers, public defenders, service members, and community health care workers, along with many other Public Servants, receive the student loan forgiveness they have earned.

“Especially now, as our nation works to combat COVID-19 and build back better from this pandemic, the Federal Government must fulfil its promise to our Public Service workers who placed themselves in harm’s way to serve their community during this unprecedented time,” the lawmakers said.

“We urge the Department of Education to take proactive steps to simplify the process, provide more transparency and bolster oversight of the program and loan servicers to ensure that the PSLF program is implemented in accordance with Congressional intent,” they said.

Washington, 9 May 2021

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