President Trump’s new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, made much of his income last year advising companies that depend on federal contracts, including a private military conglomerate that has made billions of dollars for its work in Afghanistan and Iraq, financial filings show.
Kelly, a four-star Marine Corps general who retired last year as head of U.S. Southern Command, was paid $166,666 to work as an adviser on “military defense issues” for the defense contractor DynCorp International, the documents show.
During Kelly’s time at DynCorp, a company subsidiary was awarded a $700,000 contract with the Department of Homeland Security, the agency to which Kelly would soon be nominated to head, although it is not clear what role, if any, he had in the contract.
Kelly, 67, submitted his financial disclosure documents in December before joining DHS. As part of an ethics agreement, he pledged in January to resign from his positions with federal contractors before being confirmed as secretary.
Since being named Trump’s chief of staff last week, Kelly has been praised as a disciplined military man and a fellow political outsider who can bring order to Trump’s chaotic West Wing while helping the president deliver on his promises to make deals and “drain the swamp” of the Beltway establishment.
Kelly’s private-sector work shows how he has been a participant in the ways of Washington, where it is common for military officers and other former government officials to find second careers as consultants or lobbyists — and then, sometimes, return to government.
A DynCorp spokeswoman said the company would not answer questions about Kelly’s work. White House officials did not respond to questions or make Kelly available for an interview.
Before his DHS role, Kelly spent more than 40 years in the Marines, including three tours in Iraq. Shortly after his military retirement last year, he joined DynCorp and other firms with close ties to federal contracting.
DynCorp, like many defense contractors, counts a number of retired military officers within its ranks. Kelly was hired by the company in June 2016, and his six-month salary at the company accounted for the bulk of his private-sector income last year, the disclosures show.
Two months after Kelly’s hire, a DynCorp subsidiary was awarded a $700,000 contract to provide “Elicitation and Detecting Deception” training for DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel.
In a company news release, Randy Bockenstedt, a senior vice president for DynCorp’s logistics arm, said, ‘This is the first win for [DynCorp] with DHS, a customer we are targeting heavily going forward.”
DynCorp spokeswoman Mary Lawrence said the company would not answer questions about the work Kelly did as an adviser. She also said the company was no longer heavily targeting DHS for contracts.
Kelly has been celebrated as an experienced military leader with close ties to the armed forces. He was introduced at his Jan. 10 confirmation hearing by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former secretary of defense Robert M. Gates.
In an administration stacked with billionaires and business heads, Kelly submitted a filing that shows he stands apart, with relatively modest finances.
Kelly owns investment real estate in Woodbridge, Va., worth up to $250,000, which netted him between $5,000 and $15,000 last year. He listed four mortgages totaling between $715,000 and $1.5 million.
Kelly was paid $37,500 last year as a board member of Michael Baker International, a federal engineering contractor owned by DC Capital Partners, a private-equity firm for which Kelly served on the board, filings show.
He was paid another $23,000 by government contractor Flatter & Associates as part of his work as a senior fellow with the National Defense University, a federal staff college funded by the Department of Defense, the records show.
Between October and December, Kelly made $12,500 as an adviser on national security affairs for Beacon Global Strategies, a Washington consulting firm co-founded by Philippe Reines, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton.
Kelly pledged in January that he would resign from his private-sector positions and recuse himself for a year from participating in any matter involving those companies or the nation of Australia, whose government owed him a payment for a speaking arrangement, filings show.