Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Saturday, December 16, 2017

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.
by Ariana Tobin, Derek Kravitz and Al Shaw

Mike Roman, a longtime Republican opposition researcher who worked for billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch before joining the Trump campaign, is now the White House’s director of special projects and research. He is one of a half-dozen unannounced hires the White House has made since President Trump took office.

Roman, who led the Kochs’ surveillance and intelligence-gathering unit before it was disbanded in April 2016, is best known for promoting a video showing members of the New Black Panthers allegedly intimidating voters outside a Philadelphia polling place in 2008. That controversial video of two men yelling racial slurs led to infighting and political recriminations inside the Justice Department and became a flash point for conservative media.

We found out about Roman’s job as well as the titles of other White House staffers with the help of readers. (Roman’s title was not included in his White House financial disclosure, but a White House official confirmed his position to ProPublica. The official also confirmed the other staffers’ job titles but did not respond to other questions.)

Roman, who made roughly $246,000 in salary from the Koch-backed Freedom Partners, according to his financial disclosure, was also a contributor to the conservative news site Breitbart and was tapped to run Trump’s “election protection” poll-watching efforts this November. He did not respond to ProPublica’s requests for comment.

His new White House position was only made public after we asked you to help us find the names of current White House staffers who meet the salary and job title criteria for filing disclosures.

Last month, the White House counsel’s office said it would release staffers’ financial disclosures upon request. But there was a catch: To get disclosure forms, you first had to know staffers’ names — and the White House hasn’t actually released the names of all those who are on staff.

So we and the public were left guessing about who had filed disclosures. Working with The New York Times and the Associated Press, we quickly found and posted most of them.

But there were about 25 White House staffers who were required to file financial disclosures whose names we didn’t know. (Some staffers are exempt from having to file disclosures, including those who make less than $161,755 annually.)

Readers sent us a slew of names, mostly White House staffers who had noted their hires on Twitter or LinkedIn. We requested their financial disclosures, and the White House has been responding. Here’s the status of each request. Some notable names so far:

  • John K. Mashburn, a deputy cabinet secretary, who helps oversee the White House liaisons acting as the president’s eyes and ears at dozens of federal agencies. Mashburn, a prominent social conservative and congressional aide to the late Sen. Jesse Helms, worked for the Trump campaign as a policy director starting in April 2016. He also received $7,341 in consulting fees from the American Civil Rights Union this spring while he was employed by the White House. Started by a former Reagan administration official as a check to the American Civil Liberties Union, the nonprofit ACRU “monitors and counters organizations that threaten our constitutional rights and promotes election integrity,” among others things, according to its website. (An executive order signed into law in 1989 and modified in 1990 prohibits presidential appointees from being paid for outside employment “during that Presidential appointment.” But it’s unclear if Mashburn was being paid for work prior to his Jan. 20 start date.)

  • Abe E. Goldschmidt, a special assistant to the president working in the newly created Office of American Innovation, worked for Trump’s campaign in the fall while simultaneously working as an assistant prosecutor for the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office. He was a White House intern in 2007 and later was a research analyst for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential run and a confidential assistant for the Department of Homeland Security, according to his LinkedIn profile. Goldschmidt worked for the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office from August 2012 to November 2016. (In response to questions, the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office said Goldschmidt followed rules and “requested a personal leave of absence to participate in a political volunteer activity. He submitted his request prior to this activity as he was aware that Assistant State Attorneys may not engage in outside volunteer or paid work without approval and that any activity must be confined to their own free time. His request was approved.”)

  • Sean Doocey, the White House’s deputy director of presidential personnel and a special assistant to the president, worked as the director of research for Trump’s campaign and as director of human resources and security at Barbaricum, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. He was also a gatekeeper for the Trump transition team.

  • Kelly Riddell Sadler, a former deputy opinion editor at The Washington Times, is now a special assistant to President Trump. (In her final column, dated April 4, Sadler wrote about the president’s flagging job approval numbers: “So long as Mr. Trump continues to spur the economy and people’s confidence in it, what they think of him will fall to the wayside.”)

Doocey, Mashburn and Roman were appointed on Inauguration Day and Goldschmidt was appointed Jan. 24. Sadler’s appointment date was not disclosed.

Reached by phone, Doocey confirmed his appointment and declined further comment. Goldschmidt, Mashburn, Matich and Sadler did not respond to ProPublica’s requests for comment.

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