Appointee Watch: HR Leaders Confirmed, While Another Official Resigns

Leading the news in the world of presidential appointments this week is the Senate’s vote Wednesday to confirm Jeff Pon as director of the Office of Personnel Management.

This marks the first time in nearly three years that the federal government’s HR agency has had a permanent director. Senators also confirmed OPM Deputy Director Michael Rigas.

But there is trouble brewing at the Agriculture Department. On Thursday, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke abruptly resigned following reports of sexual misconduct. Although the position is appointed by the Agriculture secretary and not subject to congressional approval, Tooke is the latest in a string of high-level administration officials to be accused of misconduct.

Last year, Andy Puzder withdrew his name from consideration to be secretary of Labor following reports that his wife accused him of abuse on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1990, in addition to his controversial views and actions as CEO of the company that runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast food chains. And last month, White House aide Rob Porter resigned following allegations that he had physically abused multiple ex-wives.

According to the Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post, which have been tracking more than 600 key administration jobs that require Senate confirmation, 276 political appointees have been confirmed to their agency positions. An additional 147 people either have been announced or formally nominated to jobs, while 216 important posts remain vacant.

In recent weeks, Trump has announced a variety of nominations:

Defense: Lisa Porter, deputy undersecretary for research and engineering. Porter most recently was executive vice president and director of In-Q-Tel Labs, and she previously was president of Teledyne Scientific and Imaging. Before entering the private sector, she was the first director of intelligence advanced research projects activity at the Office of the Director of National intelligence. She previously held posts at NASA and at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Energy: Theodore Garrish, assistant secretary for international affairs. Garrish has previously held posts at the department as general counsel, assistant secretary for nuclear energy and assistant secretary for congressional, intergovernmental and public affairs. He also served as federal inspector of the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System.

Charles Verdon, deputy administrator for defense programs, National Nuclear Security Administration. Verdon is the principal associate director at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s weapons and complex integration directorate, which is responsible for management and coordination of nuclear weapons program activities. He is a physicist, with several degrees in nuclear engineering from the University of Arizona.

James Campos, director, Office of Minority Economic Impact. Campos is the senior adviser on economic development and government relations to the president of Nevada State College, and he serves on the Nevada Taxicab Commission. He is a former statewide commissioner of the Nevada Consumer Affairs Division, a state regulator of trade practices.

Environmental Protection Agency: Peter Write, assistant administrator, Office of Solid Waste. Wright is a managing counsel at Dow Chemical Company, where he leads legal strategies regarding EPA Superfund sites and other remediation issues.

State: Kimberly Breier, assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs. Breier has been a member of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s policy planning staff since 2017. She previously was director of the U.S.-Mexico Futures Initaitive, deputy director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and she was vice president of Peschard Sverdrup International. She was an analyst in the U.S. intelligence community for more than a decade, and she served on the staff of the National Security Council.

Treasury: Michael Desmond, chief counsel, Internal Revenue Service. Desmond runs his own law firm that represents businesses and individuals before the IRS and state tax authorities. He previously was a partner at another private law firm. Before entering the private sector, he was a tax attorney for the Justice Department, and during the George W. Bush administration he was tax legislative counsel at the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy.

Veterans Affairs: Paul Lawrence, undersecretary for benefits. Lawrence is vice president at Kaiser Associates, and he previously was a partner at two accounting firms that specialize in federal government organizations, totaling more than 30 years in federal contracting.

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