The White House has been tapping political appointees and Trump allies for positions at a small federal agency that generally go to development experts, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which works on economic growth for developing nations, has reportedly seen its hiring process taken over by the White House.
Former agency officials told the Post that, under previous administrations beginning with former President George W. Bush, the White House will only name the MCC’s chief executive and other high-ranking officials. Staffers were then picked by the head of the agency.
But the White House has started tapping political appointees for the lower-level jobs, which used to be selected by the MCC’s chief executive, the newspaper reported.
The White House did not return the Post's repeated requests for comments.
The Post reported that six of the agency’s staffers were reassigned to make room for Trump's political appointees, and three others were made to leave, according to interviews with ex-employees and internal documents obtained by the Post through Freedom of Information Act requests.
Former staffers were reportedly told they could be laid off and replaced by the political appointees.
There are now 14 political appointees working at the agency, more than twice the number who were working there the day of Trump’s inauguration.
Among the appointees is Robert Blau, a retired Foreign Service officer and a speechwriter on Trump’s 2016 campaign, who reportedly told coworkers to watch Fox News and claimed some media outlets were “out to get Trump every day.”
Blau was named acting head of the MCC in May. He declined to comment to the Post.
Other appointees include the grandson of a senior official at the Presidential Personnel Office (PPO). Sean Doocey, PPO director, is reportedly friendly with the appointee’s grandparent, Katja Bullock.
Bullock and Doocey both declined to comment to the Post, as did Bullock’s grandson Dillon Seamus Bullock.
Katja Bullock and Doocey have overseen the process for naming the appointees to the agency, the newspaper reported.
Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezOvernight Defense & National Security — Blinken heads to the hot seat Blinken to testify before Senate panel next week on Afghanistan Overnight Health Care — FDA vaccine scientists depart amid booster drama MORE (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, placed a hold on a MCC project while congressional investigators examined the effects of the political appointees. He lifted the hold two weeks ago in exchange for personnel documents at the agency.
Menendez hit the Trump administration’s “practice of replacing seasoned professional and programmatic experts with patronage hires” in a statement to The Post, adding that “blind loyalty seemingly trumps qualifications, experience and career public servants.”
“Congress gave MCC special hiring authority so that it could operate with efficiency and effectiveness, not so that it could become a dumping ground for unqualified partisan loyalists and lackeys,” he said in the statement.