White House to nominees: ‘Hang in there’


(Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Being an Obama nominee waiting in purgatory must get pretty discouraging sometimes.

At the end of May, the White House’s director of presidential personnel sent a stiff-upper-lip e-mail to nominees caught up in Congress’ confirmation gridlock, telling them to “hang in there.”

In an e-mail obtained by NBC4′s Scott MacFarlane through a FOIA request and shared with the Loop, Jonathan McBride sent a note with the salutation: “Friends” that thanked them for sticking with the process.

“Thank you so much for continuing to hang in there during such a long and, at times, unfair confirmation process,” McBride wrote. “The President and the entire Administration remain committed to getting you in place as quickly as possible.”

He noted there were 210 nominees awaiting confirmation, and said to let him know if “personal or professional situations are changing.”

One of the nominees who received the McBride e-mail was Constance Tobias, who is a nominee for the Veterans Affairs Department post of chairwoman of the board of veterans’ appeals. She replied to the e-mail with a note that a Washington Post reporter was seeking comment about “the status of my nomination,” but that she did not speak with said reporter.

(The reporter in question happened to be this one, and the story in the works was this one.)


(Courtesy: NBC4′s Scott MacFarlane)

According to further e-mail exchanges between staff, there was a debate back and forth about which vacancies to share, with one writing that it’s been White House “policy not to share our political appointee position vacancies for a multitude of reasons.” To their credit, they did provide the Loop a longer list of political appointee nominees to the VA later in the day on May 30, the day VA Secretary Eric Shinseki stepped down.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Monday that the emails from McBride are “updates that are sent very regularly.”

There are currently 248 Obama nominees awaiting confirmation, according to the White House. Of that total, 105 are cabinet-level agency positions, 50 ambassadors and 29 judges.

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Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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