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Former Trump appointees say they’re still waiting on their vacation payouts

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Former Trump appointees say they’re still waiting on their vacation payouts

Political appointees who stay to the very end of an administration often face a gap between Jan. 20 and when they land their next job, given the time it takes to network, get job interviews and then get a formal offer. Trump appointees face the added problem of job hunting in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, which made some companies reluctant to hire former Trump appointees, in part because of fear of a backlash.

“I’m sitting here going, how do I pay my rent? How do I pay my cellphone bill?” one former Commerce appointee said in an interview.

Another former Trump Commerce official said: “I have enough money to make it a month, but when rent’s due next month, what happens then? Rent in D.C. isn’t cheap.”

Besides the vacation payouts, at least three former Commerce appointees haven’t gotten their separation packets that contain a document called the SF-50, which allows them to apply for unemployment benefits, according to another former Commerce appointee, who only just received his packet.

A Commerce Department spokesperson said in a statement: “Commerce’s HR Department is available to past appointees and more than happy to help them finish any outstanding paperwork.”

The spokesperson added that Commerce had completed separation procedures for appointees who have completed the necessary paperwork and that it was ready to assist appointees who have outstanding questions or haven’t completed all of the steps for off-boarding out of the department, which is necessary for payouts to be issued.

The lack of timely vacation payouts is not affecting just former Commerce appointees. A former Homeland Security official said she hadn’t received payout of her annual leave, which is more than 200 hours and equivalent to three months of pay. Another former senior DHS official said he also hadn’t gotten his one month of vacation payout, which comes out to about $15,000 minus taxes.

“For all pay and benefits inquiries, former DHS employees are encouraged to reach out to their servicing Human Resources office,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement.

It’s not known how widespread the payment delays are or the exact cause, but there have been other personnel hiccups during the transition, which was especially rocky because of former President Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge President Joe Biden’s win. POLITICO previously reported that a number of Trump appointees unexpectedly lost their parental leave benefits when Biden was sworn into office.

While some Trump appointees have been able to land jobs on Capitol Hill or in the private sector, many of them are still looking, and one called the job market for Trump appointees “a little slow” and said that she’d received no offers yet.

Two former Commerce political appointees who served at the end of the Obama administration said that their vacation payouts weren’t delayed as long, and that there weren’t major delays in getting appointees their separation packets.

“I don’t remember it being a problem,” said one of the former Obama Commerce officials. “I don’t remember us having any issues.” Another former official got his vacation payout in the middle of February of 2017.

Some of the former Trump appointees say they are getting increasingly frustrated with the prolonged delays in the payouts, although others have started to get them recently.

“I don’t understand how it’s taking so long to figure out how much comp time you have and how much you’re owed and why that isn’t falling directly into my account,” one former Trump appointee said. “Jan. 20 was never a moving target.” While he has only 72 hours of unused comp time because he was new at the department, he said some people have hundreds of hours.

“A lot of the politicals are not getting jobs, so a lot of them were relying on the lump-sum payments to get them through the next few months,” a third former Trump appointee said.

A separate issue some former Trump appointees are facing is temporarily extending their federal government health insurance through COBRA, although such insurance would be paid by the appointees themselves.

While there’s a 31-day grace period in which appointees still get health insurance, several told POLITICO that the government hadn’t given them the proper forms to apply for COBRA, and one said that when he went to a doctor recently, the office couldn’t find evidence of his insurance.

One said the delay was “leaving a lot of people asking: Am I going to lose health care for the time that the processing center would take to get our information into the system?”

“A lot of people are freaking out,” another said.

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‘A nicer version of Trump’: GOP donors flock to DeSantis

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'A nicer version of Trump': GOP donors flock to DeSantis

POLITICO’s Holly Otterbein reports on how Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s Senate run has become an inflection point in the Democratic party. Plus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she won’t bring progressive “court packing” legislation to the floor. And House Minority Leader McCarthy meets with scandal-ridden Rep. Matt Gaetz.

The enthusiasm was on full display during DeSantis’ appearance at last weekend’s Republican National Committee donor gala in Palm Beach, Fla., where he drew wild applause for declaring the party needed figures who withstood public pressure and weren’t afraid to confront what he called the “elite, New York corporate media.”

The governor was mobbed over the course of the weekend. Joanne Zervos, a New York City donor who spoke with DeSantis during the conference, said many contributors saw him as “a nicer version of Trump,” someone who had embraced the former president’s policies but lacked his rough edges. Zervos said she was drawn to the governor because of his approach to dealing with the coronavirus.

DeSantis last week also made a surprise appearance at a donor retreat convened by the Conservative Partnership Institute, an organization overseen by Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). The event was held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. During his appearances last week, some attendees approached him and encouraged him to run in 2024.

Whether DeSantis’ popularity among donors is lasting or fleeting remains an open question. The 2024 nominating contest is a long way off, and other would-be candidates have also developed close relationships with contributors. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was also well-received at the RNC retreat, according to attendees. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has previously drawn financial support from hedge fund manager Paul Singer, one of the party’s most sought-after givers. Pence spent years cultivating big contributors, many of whom were uncomfortable with Trump but saw the then-vice president as an ally within the administration.

For now, DeSantis aides insist that the 42-year-old governor is focused squarely on running for reelection and hasn’t begun thinking about the presidential contest, something they have been trying to remind donors. The governor faces a potentially challenging 2022 contest against Democratic state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is expected to enter the race soon.

But DeSantis’ aggressive courtship of national givers bears striking similarities to the approach then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush used in his 1998 reelection race, which preceded his presidential bid two years later. Bush spent the 1998 campaign traveling the country and introducing himself to the Republican Party’s biggest donors, many of whom contributed to his reelection effort and later became key to his 2000 national campaign.

As he embarks on his fundraising blitz, DeSantis has begun building a team with national experience. He has tapped veteran Republican strategist Phil Cox to help oversee his 2022 campaign. Cox, who has developed deep ties to the donor class through his past leadership of the Republican Governors Association, accompanied the governor to last week’s retreats.

But DeSantis’ most potent fundraising weapon may be his home state, which has long been home to some of the GOP’s biggest bankrollers. The governor has tapped into upscale areas like Miami Beach, where during a multistop March swing he appeared at a fundraising lunch at the La Gorce Country Club that was hosted by real estate developer Jimmy Tate. Others present included investor Jimmy Resnick.

Florida’s list of major Republican Party donors is getting longer. While the state has long attracted the wealthy through its promise of low taxes and warm weather, the pandemic has supercharged the migration. Financial leaders say they’ve been drawn to DeSantis’ reluctance to embrace the stringent mitigation policies implemented by blue-state governors that have taken a toll on businesses.

The roster includes venture capitalist David Blumberg, who in November moved to the Miami Beach area from San Francisco. Blumberg, who contributed more than $100,000 to Trump’s reelection effort, has met with DeSantis around a half-dozen times since arriving to the state.

“I have admired Gov. DeSantis from afar,” Blumberg said. “Since I’ve moved to Florida with my family, I’ve gotten to know him reasonably well and have a very good impression of what I’ve seen.”

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The GOP-Big Business Divorce Goes Deeper Than You Think

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The GOP-Big Business Divorce Goes Deeper Than You Think

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a legendary business professor and associate dean at the Yale School of Management, has watched this split grow in recent years, and has heard it from CEOs he knows and works with. What the GOP cares about and what major businesses care about is, increasingly incompatible, he says.

“The political desire to use wedge issues to divide — which used to be fringe in the GOP — has become mainstream,” Sonnenfeld says. “That is 100 percent at variance with what the business community wants. And that is a million times more important to them than how many dollars of taxes are paid here or there.”

Over the weekend, Sonnenfeld hastily organized a Zoom conference with roughly 100 major corporate executives to talk through the voter restrictions being considered by state legislatures throughout the country, and about the way top Republicans like McConnell and Ted Cruz are responding with attacks on businesses that speak up in opposition.

Most of the CEOs on the call were Republicans; Sonnenfeld himself has been an informal adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents, but he has a longstanding relationship with McConnell, and spoke at the senator’s wedding to Elaine Chao. The CEOs “ranged from amused to outraged” in their reaction to the GOP attacks on businesses, says Sonnenfeld. “Their comments ranged from talk about ‘taxation without representation’ to the paradox of ‘cancel culture’: It’s OK if they speak out, but only as long as they stay on script?”

As the GOP tries to position itself as the home of “working-class values,” capturing loyalty with a steady campaign against the perceived excesses of progressive culture, it’s running afoul of a business community that can’t simply silo off “culture war” topics. In the eyes of major corporations, issues like voting rights, immigration and transgender-inclusive restrooms have economic impact, too. The millions of people alienated by those fights aren’t just their future customers, many of whom expect to support brands they believe in, they’re the companies’ employees.

“The bad news for Republicans is that they seem to have a 1920s view of who big business’s workforce is,” says Sonnenfeld. “That workforce is, at a minimum, highly diverse — and they get along. Trying to stir that up is misguided.”

The new Republican penchant for mocking corporations for being too socially aware — for instance, Sen. Ted Cruz’s Twitter threat to use the power of the state to harm Major League Baseball’s business, signing the message off with “go woke, go broke” — fundamentally misunderstands what matters to business in the 21st century, says Sonnenfeld. “Basically, business leaders believe that it’s in the interest of society to have social harmony… Divisiveness in society is not in their interest, short term or long term.”

If the marriage between the Republican Party and the business community is on the rocks, what does that mean for politics? What do we misunderstand about what really matters to CEOs? And why aren’t business executives more afraid of boycott threats from the right?

For answers to all of that and more, POLITICO Magazine spoke with Sonnenfeld this week. A condensed transcript of that conversation follows, edited for length and clarity.

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Pence has pacemaker implanted – POLITICO

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Pence has pacemaker implanted - POLITICO

Former Vice President Mike Pence had a pacemaker implanted on Wednesday, his office announced in a release Thursday.

After being named to Donald Trump’s ticket in 2016, Pence disclosed that he had been diagnosed with an asymptomatic left bundle branch block, he said. In the past two weeks, Pence’s office said he had begun to have symptoms related to a “slow heart rate.”

Pence then had the pacemaker inserted in a successful “routine surgery” at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus in Falls Church, Va., his office said in the statement. Pence is “expected to fully recover and return to normal activity in the coming days,” the statement said.

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