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Monday, June 5, 2017

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

The White House announces intent to nominate the following to the key posts within the administration.

Nominees include Brian Benczkowski, Steve Bradbury and Carlos Muñiz.

Brian Allen Benczkowski of Virginia to be an Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Justice. Mr. Benczkowski is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP whose practice focuses on litigation and white collar criminal defense, including government and internal investigations. He has over 10 years of diverse public service experience in the federal government, including key leadership positions both in the U.S. Department of Justice and on Capitol Hill.  Prior to joining Kirkland in 2010, Mr. Benczkowski served as the Republican Staff Director for the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. Senate, where he was the top advisor and strategist to Republican members of the committee for legislative, oversight and nominations matters. Previously, Mr. Benczkowski was the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. As the principal legal, policy and political advisor to the two senior leaders of the Department of Justice, he was responsible for overall direction of the Department, including operational, policy and public relations efforts. Mr. Benczkowski also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, where he managed DOJ's relationship with Congress. During this time, he was responsible for directing the Department's response to congressional investigations and requests for information and documents, and preparing numerous witnesses and nominees for testimony before Congress.

Steven Bradbury of Virginia to be General Counsel of Transportation. Mr. Bradbury is a litigation partner at Dechert LLP in Washington, D.C., where his practice focuses on regulatory enforcement and investigations, rulemaking and judicial review of agency actions, appellate cases, and antitrust matters.  He has extensive experience with automotive safety and airline competition issues, including before the Department of Transportation.  From 2005 to 2009, Mr. Bradbury headed the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he advised the executive branch on a wide range of constitutional and statutory questions, and where he received the Edmund J. Randolph Award and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, among other awards.  Before serving in the Justice Department, Mr. Bradbury was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP for ten years.  He clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court and for Judge James L. Buckley on the D.C. Circuit.  Mr. Bradbury graduated magna cum laude from Michigan Law School and received his B.A. from Stanford University. 

Robert Charrow of Maryland to be General Counsel of Health and Human Services. Mr. Charrow is a principal shareholder in the Washington, D.C. office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, where he specializes in litigation arising under the Administrative Procedure Act, the federal regulation of healthcare, and federal appellate litigation. Before joining Greenberg Traurig in 2002, he was with the law firm Crowell & Moring.  Previously, he served as the Deputy and then Principal Deputy General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He supervised the chief counsel for the various agencies within the Department, including the Health Care Financing Administration (now CMS), Office of Inspector General, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Public Health Service. Mr. Charrow received his law degree from Stanford University in 1969 and did his undergraduate work in physics at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.

Carlos G. Muñiz of Florida to be General Counsel at the Department of Education. Mr. Muñiz is an attorney and consultant at McGuireWoods. His prior experience in government includes serving as Deputy Attorney General of the State of Florida and as Deputy General Counsel to the Governor of Florida. He earned degrees from the University of Virginia and from Yale Law School. After law school, he served as a law clerk to Judge José A. Cabranes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and to Judge Thomas A. Flannery of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Mr. Muñiz and his wife reside in Tallahassee, Florida, with their three children.

Peter Louis Oppenheim of Maryland to be Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs at the Department of Education. Mr. Oppenheim is currently the Education Policy Director and Counsel for the majority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. During his tenure on the Senate HELP Committee staff, Mr. Oppenheim was instrumental in negotiations leading to the enactment of several landmark education laws, including the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. Previously, Mr. Oppenheim was Senator Lamar Alexander's (R-TN) Legislative Counsel, advising the Senator on education, labor, and pensions issues. Before working on the Hill, Mr. Oppenheim was a Managing Associate in the education and workforce practice at the Carmen Group. Mr. Oppenheim also served as a public policy research assistant for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), a finance coordinator for the Republican Governors Association, and a project manager for the Republican National Committee. Mr. Oppenheim earned a B.A. from Colby College and a J.D. cum laude from the American University Washington College of Law.

Joseph Otting of Nevada to be Comptroller of the Currency at the Department of the Treasury. Prior to his nomination, Mr. Otting had a long career in financial services working for a number of highly regarded regional banks. Most recently he served as managing partner of Ocean Blvd LLC and Lake Blvd LLC. Mr. Otting previously served as President and CEO of OneWest Bank N.A and Vice Chairman of U.S. Bancorp. Mr. Otting holds a B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa and is a graduate of the School of Credit and Financial Management at Dartmouth College.

David P. Pekoske of Maryland to be an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration. Mr. Pekoske has extensive operational and command experience through a distinguished career with the U. S. Coast Guard, where he retired as the Vice Commandant.  In this key leadership position within the Department of Homeland Security he was the Coast Guard’s second-in-command and chief operating officer.  Before that, he was Commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area and Coast Guard Defense Forces West. Throughout his career, he worked closely with the men and women in Federal, State, and local law enforcement and public safety organizations to protect the American people. Since retiring from the Coast Guard, he has been an executive in the government services industry leading business units that provided homeland security and intelligence related services.  Additionally, he has been a member of the adjunct faculty at American University and been active in many organizations that advance military, veterans, and national security issues. Mr. Pekoske has a Master of Business Administration degree from the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He is a graduate of the U. S. Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Charles Douglas Stimson of Virginia to be General Counsel of the Department of the Navy. Mr. Stimson currently serves as a Senior Legal Fellow and Manager of the National Security Law Program at The Heritage Foundation, where he leads the foundation's research efforts related to national security law issues including the Law of Armed Conflict, FISA, military law, War Powers, military commissions, and U.S. detention and interrogation policy. He also specializes in criminal law and homeland security. Mr. Stimson also serves as a Captain in the United States Navy Judge Advocate Generals Corps (JAG), reserve component, and is currently the Commanding Officer of the Navy Appellate Government unit. Previously, Mr. Stimson was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs under President George W. Bush, and an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. In addition, he served as a Vice President for Private Equity Mergers & Acquisitions at Marsh McLennan. Mr. Stimson holds a B.A. from Kenyon College, a J.D. from the George Mason University School of Law, and attended Harvard University and Exeter University in England. 

Owen West of Connecticut to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense, Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. Mr. West most recently served as Partner, Head of Global Natural Gas Trading and Co-Head of Global Power Trading at Goldman Sachs & Co., where he designed and managed this international risk business. Previously, Mr. West served as an infantry platoon commander, reconnaissance platoon leader, and combat advisor in the United States Marine Corps, where he was twice deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is the author of three books and dozens of articles on military affairs and adventure sports. Mr. West was also a director of the Positive Coaching Alliance, a director of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. West is a graduate of Harvard University, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

David Steele Bohigian of Missouri to be Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Mr. Bohigian is the Managing Director of Pluribus Ventures, an advisor to financial services firms and growth companies. Earlier, he served on the core management team of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. Prior to Bridgewater, Mr. Bohigian founded E2 Capital Partners, which developed new financing models for energy efficiency projects. Mr. Bohigian previously served as an Assistant Secretary of Commerce and served as a Managing Director of Idealab and as a partner at Jefferson Partners, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm. He received his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a journalism degree from Washington & Lee University. 

Ray Washburne of Texas to be the President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Mr. Washburne is the President and CEO of Charter Holdings, a private real estate investment company based in Dallas.  He is the co-founder and co-owner of M Crowd Restaurant Group, which owns and operates Mi Cocina, Taco Diner and The Mercury restaurants.  Mr. Washburne is the President and Managing Director of Highland Park Village in Dallas.  Mr. Washburne received his B.A. from Southern Methodist University.

Hundreds of groups pen letter to Trump to end assault on human and civil rights

Hundreds of civil and human rights groups have penned a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to "end his systematic assault on civil and human rights."

Led by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 99 other such groups that include The Human Rights Campaign, the A. Philip Randolph Institute and the AFL-CIO, the groups maintain that the Trump administration has been making generous cuts to several civil rights organizations.

“It’s clear that President Trump and his administration is attempting to roll back civil and human rights across the board. That will not stand,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference.

The administration has vehemently cited his intent to "repeal and replace" Obamacare and what the administration deems as "high cost" health care. It has also promised an increase in spending for the following governmental agencies, as cited by OMB director Mick Mulvaney.

In an off-camera briefing on the FY18 budget Mulvaney in late May, 2017 told reporters that the administration is working to increase funding on "national security", "border security" ("bricks and mortar for a wall"), "technology people", and "infrastructure at the border."

[Group objects Trump's infrastructure plan]

Mulvaney also cited an increase in several other areas, among them law enforcement.

"It also means more money for law enforcement at the federal and the state levels.  It means more money for veterans, more money for school choice", Mulvaney said.

With the increase in funding in the above-mentioned areas, groups like the AFL-CIO are concerned
their organizations will see a decrease in funding to support increases elsewhere.

“We believe in an America that is inclusive, fair, and just for all people – and we demand that this White House and the agencies work – as we all must – to continue to build an America as good as its ideals. Only then can we continue to make America great", said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference.

The group's letter reads as follows:

Dear President Trump:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national advocacy organizations, and the 99 undersigned organizations, we stand united in expressing our profound concern that the civil and human rights of all Americans are being drastically undermined by your administration’s proposed deep cuts to key civil rights office budgets, the withdrawal of numerous important civil and human rights policies, and the appointment of officials who appear bent on retreating from statutory civil and human rights agency priorities. We call upon your administration to reverse these disturbing trends, and to demonstrate a far greater commitment to the civil and human rights of all people in this country and to the federal laws created to protect them.

Extending equal opportunity in education, employment, housing; protecting the right to vote; reducing hate violence and racial disparities in the criminal justice system; preventing discrimination in health care; and advancing economic security are not simply legal obligations that your administration must meet. Our nation’s civil and human rights laws are a testament to who we are today as a country, a sign of the tremendous progress we have made throughout our history, and a pledge we make to future generations to continue moving ever closer to our ideals of fairness and equity for all. For decades, and for compelling reasons, the vigorous enforcement of these laws has been a core federal responsibility, and should never be seen as optional or as a matter of politics.

Our concerns were recently exemplified by an article in The Washington Post, detailing recent steps your administration has taken to retreat from our nation’s longstanding commitment to civil rights enforcement. The examples cited in that article – such as the proposed elimination of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the end of the environmental justice program at the Environmental Protection Agency, and threats of drastic staff cutbacks in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights – are only the most recent signs that your administration is engaged in a significant rollback of civil rights enforcement. They build upon a record that already borders on the unconscionable, which includes a discriminatory Muslim ban, limits on the use of consent decrees to reform troubled police departments, the revival of a failed war on drugs, support of an intentionally racially discriminatory voter ID law, the formation of an illegitimate “election integrity” task force to attempt to justify voter suppression efforts, increased prosecutions and mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood, the signing of an executive order that endorses discrimination under the guise of religious liberty, freezes on affirmative litigation, and the rollback of guidance clarifying protections for transgender students.

We were stunned to hear a White House spokesperson claim, in the Post article, that your administration “has an unwavering commitment to the civil rights of all Americans.” Your administration’s actions to date demonstrate the opposite. We urge you to reverse course, before more individuals and communities are harmed, by resolving to take the following steps:
  • Enforce the law. Federal agencies must vigorously respond to complaints of civil and human rights violations, and must uphold the vital federal role of enforcing our civil and human rights laws and ensuring vulnerable communities are protected from discrimination. 
  • Preserve existing policies. In recent years, federal civil rights offices have issued numerous policies and procedures to clarify the obligations of affected individuals, employers, and governmental entities under federal civil and human rights laws. These must be maintained.
  • Nominate and appoint qualified individuals. We urge you to ensure that individuals chosen to lead civil rights offices have a demonstrated record of support for federal civil rights laws and marginalized communities. Individuals who are unfamiliar with or hostile to our nation’s civil rights laws and their purpose have no place leading offices charged with protecting people from discrimination.
  • Prioritize data collection. A key component of civil rights enforcement, in many agencies, is continuing to collect, and make available to the public, disaggregated data to determine existing patterns and to promote better future compliance with federal hate crime and nondiscrimination laws.
  • Condemn bigotry and violence. Law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations have documented a significant increase in bigotry and hate crimes. We urge you to establish a White House hate crime task force to coordinate federal agency response.  You and all members of your administration should use your bully pulpit to clearly condemn bias-motivated violence and bigotry targeting people based on race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability at every opportunity. 
Our vision of an America as good in practice as it is in promise is fundamentally undermined by your administration's apparent agenda of nothing less than an all-out, systemic assault on the progress our country has made since the New Deal. Our nation should honor equal protection for all, view its diversity as its strength, and strive to be an inclusive place where all in America can live, work, study, and participate in our democracy as free and equal people. We call on you and your administration to take affirmative steps to halt the problematic policies and initiatives we have outlined, and to provide positive leadership on these issues in order to promote inclusion and respect for the basic rights and dignity of every person in America.


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
9to5, National Association of Working Women
A. Philip Randolph Institute
American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Civil Liberties Union
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Unions (AFL-CIO)s
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Americans for Financial Reform
Amnesty International USA
The Andrew Goodman Foundation
Anti-Defamation League
The Arc of the United States
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC
Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Center for Community Change Action
Center for Law and Social Policy
Center for Reproductive Rights
Center for Responsible Lending
Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism-California State University, San Bernardino
Common Cause
Communications Workers of America
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Equal Justice Society
Equality Federation
Family Equality Council
Feminist Majority
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights First
Interfaith Alliance
International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies
Justice in Aging
Lambda Legal
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
League of United Latin American Citizens
League of Women Voters of the United States
Legal Aid at Work
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Muslim Advocates
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc.
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)
National Association of Social Workers
National Bar Association
National Black Justice Coalition
National CAPACD
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Center for Youth Law
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of La Raza
The National Council on Independent Living
National Disability Rights Network
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Health Law Program
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Immigration Law Center
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Urban League
National Women's Law Center
OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates
People For the American Way
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
The Sikh Coalition
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southern Poverty Law Center
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society
Whitman-Walker Health