26 September 2023

UNITED STATES: Extent of Trump ‘burrowers’ revealed

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The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has revealed that the number of political appointees who sought permanent Public Service positions in the final year of former President, Donald Trump’s term outpaced the number who did so under his predecessor.

The OPM said 58 Trump Administration appointees sought conversion from 1 January, 2020, to 20 January, 2021.

Of those, 31 conversions were approved, six denied, 15 returned or withdrawn, and six remained pending.

During the corresponding period under former President, Barack Obama 46 appointees sought conversion, with 36 approved, six denied and four returned or withdrawn.

All but one of the 13 Trump Administration political appointees who sought permanent jobs in the weeks between President Joe Biden’s election and inauguration were not approved, according to the OPM.

At least one of those attempted conversions during that period under Mr Trump was denied by the OPM because the Agency said it couldn’t conclude the attempted appointment was “free of political influence”.

The latest disclosures reveal the extent to which Mr Trump’s political appointees sought, in the former President’s final months, weeks and even days in office, to stay on in career Government positions, known as ‘burrowing’.

Successful conversions would give Mr Trump a legacy of influence in parts of the Federal Government that would endure far past his time in the White House.

Experts interviewed by journalists expressed concerns over the numbers and timing of political appointees seeking conversion.

Chief Executive of the non-partisan Partnership for Public Service, Max Stier (pictured) said it was clear there were some political appointees seeking Public Service jobs who were problematic.

“Why are these people only coming into these jobs after the candidate who wanted them there had lost?” Mr Stier asked.

A spokesperson for Mr Trump did not respond to requests for comment.

Washington, 11 April 2021

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