WASHINGTON, D.C. – Government watchdog Accountable.US released a new report, ‘MAGA Hangover’, finding Trump administration independent agency leaders still hold 24 key posts in the Biden administration and could use their power to undermine the president’s recovery efforts. Among them are at least five figures involved with voting issues during the 2020 election including Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, five figures in the labor mediation sphere, two figures in the Social Security Administration, and two questionable figures involved in setting energy market regulations.
In addition, during the final year of the Trump administration, at least 104 individuals were appointed to and remain on various boards, commissions, and councils within executive agencies that don’t require Senate confirmation — many of whom lack qualifications or have conflicts of interest. The appointments followed the outgoing administration’s reported “quiet push to salt federal agencies with Trump loyalists.”
“Clearly the previous administration’s ‘Plan B’ in case of new leadership was to pack agencies with as many Trump loyalists as possible — including conflicted industry insiders and right-wing zealots,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “If the small army of Trump holdovers have any intention of hindering President Biden’s crisis management efforts, they should have to answer for it to the taxpayers.”
Following the Trump administration pattern of personnel picks directly conflicting with the offices they served, the report found many of these late Trump appointments are woefully underqualified or have histories directly at odds with the positions to which they were named—and they are likely to stay in long into the Biden administration. These figures include:
- Kate Berry—A senior executive at America’s Health Insurance Plans, which spends millions lobbying on behalf of major insurance companies, was named to the governing board of the PatientCenter Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), which funds healthcare research.
- James Huffman—The head of benefits for Fidelity Investments, which offers healthcare industry financial products and settled multi-million dollar class actions over improper behavior, was named to the governing board of the Patient-Center Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), which funds healthcare research.
- Eric Kaplan—The housing finance director at the Milken Institute, a group founded by a prominent symbol of “Wall Street greed” and who called for curbing the power of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, was named to the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.
- Tim Welsh—A senior executive at U.S. Bank, which was hit with multiple lawsuits for labor violations and mishandling PPP loans during Welsh’s tenure and was previously forced by the CFPB to repay consumers for unfair charges, was named to the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.
- Constance Cullman—CEO of a major agricultural industry group that has repeatedly complained about regulations—was named to the Agricultural Policy Trade Advisory Committee.
The report is part of Accountable.US’s ongoing investigation into Trump administration holdovers and burrowers in government. It follows a report spotlighting the at least 24 Trump administration political appointees that have burrowed into long-term civil service jobs. The effort includes a database of FOIA requests to federal government departments and agencies for correspondence with the Office of Personnel Management seeking conversion for government employees in 2020 and 2021.