Leaked Salary List Shows Bush's Highest-Paid Staff Is Mostly Male
By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, July 13, 2004; Page A13
The president's men are doing very well. The president's women are doing slightly less well, but still not bad.
With new White House salary figures leaked to The Washington Post and an Excel spreadsheet, crack researcher Margot Williams determined that men in the Bush White House earn an average of $76,624 a year. Women earn $59,917 on average. That means Bush women earn about 78 percent of what Bush men earn.
As it happens, that's almost exactly the national average for the gap in pay between the sexes, although it's a good bit below the 88 percent for the nearly 1 million professional and administrative employees in the federal workforce. Also, the White House has the advantage of making all its hires from scratch after the 2000 election.
At the White House, the gap has nothing to do with wage discrimination: Women and men with similar titles receive similar pay. Rather, it comes from the dominance of men in high-end jobs; of the 17 White House staffers earning $157,000 -- the top of the pay scale this year -- 12 are men. That's roughly comparable to the 26 percent representation of women in the federal government's 7,000-person Senior Executive Service, according to the Partnership for Public Service.
Overall, working in the White House is quite a good living. The average salary, $67,075, is well above the latest available metropolitan Washington average of $48,420, and nearly double the national average of $36,764. But don't fret about the overpaid presidential adviser: Most of them could be earning far more as lawyers, lobbyists and corporate executives.
The list, as of June 12, has its share of surprises. The lowest paid of the 431 in the non-career "White House Office" (a collection of mostly political appointees and staff on loan from other agencies) is James A. Baker III, who as President Bush's envoy in search of Iraqi debt relief, has declined a salary. At the other extreme is Stephen Friedman, Bush's top economic adviser who, despite a net worth in the tens of millions, collects a government salary of $157,000.
The top salary increased from $151,000 last year, but the ranks of the highest-paid decreased by one. The new head of Bush's USA Freedom Corps service initiative was given a lesser title and salary than her predecessor.
As in many workplaces, a good relationship with the boss seems to pay off. Israel Hernandez, who served as Bush's "body" man in Texas, attending to the governor's corporeal needs, now earns $141,000 as senior adviser Karl Rove's deputy. Gordon Johndroe, who served in a similar capacity during the campaign, now is earning $87,700 as press secretary to first lady Laura Bush. Blake Gottesman, the president's current personal aide, gets $54,400 for such tasks as guarding colleagues' access to Bush, accepting knickknacks handed to Bush and placing the president's speeches on lecterns.
Two of the 431 employees are unnamed because they come from intelligence agencies. The spooks get $125,972 and $118,384, respectively.
Though most job titles have narrow pay ranges, there are exceptions. One "ethics adviser," for example, earns $124,166 and another earns $31,277.
The lowest-paid employees -- staff assistants, gift analysts and the like -- earn about $30,000. Writers also get meager pay. Although speechwriting chief Michael Gerson gets $157,000, those who write letters to constituents earn about a fifth of that. Similarly, press secretary Scott McClellan earns $157,000, while his press assistants receive $32,800.
Salaries for all 431 officials can be found at www.washingtonpost.com/whbriefing.
It seems that reporters will do anything these days to get an exclusive with President Bush. On a recent presidential trip, a reporter for U.S. News & World Report became ill after a hot and rough ride on a military helicopter. Aboard Air Force One, Bush's doctor offered the young woman, whose Harvard education had not prepared her for such rigors, a bed in the plane's sick bay -- right next to the president's suite.
While the writer recovered, a familiar figure in workout attire happened by to inquire about her health; later in the flight, he checked on her again.
Bush may have a testy relationship with the media these days, but you can't fault his bedside manner.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., left, communications director Dan Bartlett and senior political adviser Karl Rove, right, during a news conference.
(Frank Johnston -- The Washington Post)
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