Presidential Election Also Means 3,000 Unelected, Unknown Political Appointees

When we elect a president, we are also signing off on over 3,000 powerful political appointees that will run all those monstrous departments and agencies, boards and commissions with trillions of dollars in funding.  And as the saying goes in D.C, “personnel is policy.” Photo:

WASHINGTON, November 5, 2012 – If you live outside the beltway—the ring that I-495 forms around Washington, D.C.— it’s quite likely that you have never heard the expression “personnel is policy.”

I had no idea what a powerful insight this was when I first came to our nation’s capital a decade ago.

What the president is told and how policy is formed is driven by the people the president appoints to inform him and to enforce policy on us. That means that, when we elect a president, we also “elect” 3,000-4,000 unelected but powerful political appointees.

Less than one in three of the thousands of appointments requires any check and balance like Senate approval. Yet it is the executive branch that houses all those monstrous departments, agencies, boards, and commissions. All the power of trillions in budgets, millions of employees, and millions of contractors are vested in the president—and therefore in his political appointees.

We may not know it, but political appointees is where the rubber most often meets the road for us little people who make up the electorate. Let’s review some of the unelected political characters (and their actions) who were swept in by the last election. Here are two that have made the most consistent news:

Eric Holder, Attorney General, Department of Justice: Dropped New Black Panther voter intimidation case in 2009. J. Christian Adams, an attorney for the Justice Department, resigned in 2010 to protest the handling of this Black Panther case. Adams testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that he was advised, “Cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims.”

In a similar theme, the DOJ also filed lawsuits against Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Utah, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Indiana to block state laws meant to enforce federal illegal immigration laws. DOJ also fought voter I.D. laws in multiple states saying that requiring a picture I.D. to vote was discriminatory. 

Meanwhile, in April, 2011, a judge ordered the DOJ to pay $120,000 in legal fees for improper prosecution of a pro-life sidewalk counselor. The case had so little merit that the judge actually wrote into his ruling that he wondered if there was collusion between the government and the abortion center involved.

Recently, it was revealed that Holder’s wife co-owns a building housing one of Georgia’s most notorious abortion practices. Critics say that is a conflict of interest.

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary Health and Human Services: A pro-abortion “Catholic” implicated in possible criminal destruction of evidence involving prosecution of Planned Parenthood in Kansas for felonies in failing to report underage rape. Sebelius helped shape the Obamacare mandate that ultimately imposed contraception, sterilization, morning after pills, and abortion funding on virtually all Americans through private insurance premiums. This has resulted in 30 religious freedom lawsuits with over 100 litigants and growing.

However, the impact of political appointees is felt far and wide in not just which, but how, laws are enforced. For example:

Department of Labor, National Labor Relations Board: The NY Times reported that “ever since a Democratic majority took control of the five-member [NLRB] board after Mr. Obama’s election, the board has signaled that it would seek to adopt a more liberal, pro-union tilt after years of pro-employer decisions under President Bush.”

In April, 2011, the NLRB tried to force Boeing to bring an airplane production line back to its unionized facilities in Washington State. A union said that the move was “in retaliation for a 58-day strike in 2008.”   The NLRB pursued the complaint, claiming that Boeing wanting to avoid further strikes by expanding production in South Carolina instead of Washington was an “unlawful motive.” 

I don’t know about you, but I find it weird that NLRB wanted to use its power to regulate motive rather than enforce the law.

Multiply by 1,000

As in these three examples above, political appointees are not clerks or entry level staff. Nor are they always publicly known secretaries or ambassadors. 
But they are powerful and equal to senior executives, department heads, and division managers in the private sector.

For example, take political appointee Alfredo Armendariz, regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. He resigned in the wake of criticism after he suggested that the EPA could make examples of violators just as Romans used crucifixions.

In addition, White House-appointed green jobs czar Van Jones was a self-described “communist” during the 1990s. In 2004, he signed a statement calling for an investigation alleging that the Bush administration was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Jones blamed “white polluters and white environmentalists” for “steering poison” to minority communities.

So, as you can see, when we elect a president, we are also signing off on over 3,000 political appointees to run the most powerful government in the world…and potentially our lives.

Something to remember at the ballot box.

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Paul E. Rondeau

Paul E. Rondeau's research and writing on social issures has appeared in law journals, private publications, and  the popular press.  His work has been cited at the U.S. Supreme Court, United Nations and by best-selling authors.  He serves as executive director at American Life League.  He can be contacted at


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