White House budget office slams King's 'distasteful, condescending remarks' about female director

White House budget office slams King's 'distasteful, condescending remarks' about female director
© Greg Nash

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Thursday criticized Maine Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingBipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year New intel chief inherits host of challenges Senators ask for committee vote on 'red flag' bills after shootings MORE (I) for commenting that a female director needed to wash her hair, calling them "distasteful, condescending remarks."

In a Wednesday hearing, King incredulously asked if a White House official declined to attend the hearing because they had to “wash their hair.” The official in question, whose name and sex were not mentioned in the back-and-forth, was OMB Deputy Director of Management Margaret Weichert.

“Perhaps he believes that Margaret, who has 25 years of professional, private sector experience and 14 patents to her name, should be at home at his beck and call,” OMB press secretary Meghan Burris said in a written statement, noting that Weichert was at a West Coast event focused on government workforce, women and technology.

The incident in question occurred during a Wednesday hearing of the Select Committee on Intelligence.


“Is there one person who has the responsibility for fixing this problem, and who are they?” King asked witness Brenda Farrell, a director at the Government Accountability Office, in a hearing on security clearances.

Farrell replied that the person in question was “the chair of the performance accountability council.”

King asked if “that person” would be present at the hearing, and Farrell said “that person declined” to attend the hearing.

King responded: “Well that’s kind of ridiculous, isn’t it? So the one person in the government that’s in charge of this issue, that’s a very important issue, isn’t here because — did they have to wash their hair? What’s the deal?”

OMB said “Sen. King owes Margaret, his own wife and daughter, and all women a sincere apology for his distasteful, condescending remarks.”

Kathleen Connery Dawe, King’s communications director, offered an apology for any offense caused, though said it was inadvertent.

“It’s obvious from the exchange he didn’t know the missing official’s gender but he’s sincerely sorry that he caused offense. He hopes Deputy Director Weichert will accept his apology so we can move forward and try to solve the serious flaws in our clearance process together,” she said in a statement.

The Trump White House has frequently been accused by critics of a poor track record on women’s issues, such as having a relatively low proportion of female Cabinet secretaries and appointees; overlooking domestic abuse allegations about staff secretary Rob Porter until the media publicized them; and the president’s lawyer paying “hush money" to an adult-film actress to keep quiet about her affair with President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE.

-Updated 4:27 p.m.