Maybe tag them so we can tell them from other employees.

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(December 2020) Christopher Prandoni was just 29 when he joined President Donald Trump’s administration as associate director for natural resources at the Council on Environmental Quality. Last year, he hopped over to the Interior Department and became a close adviser to Secretary David Bernhardt, sometimes attending multiple meetings a day with the agency head.

In April, Bernhardt named Prandoni, only three years out of law school, to a $114,000-a-year position that’s part of the career civil service. His appointment as a judge in the Interior Department’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, which arbitrates land-use disputes, drew sharp criticism from environmental groups concerned that Prandoni would infuse ideology into decisions and undermine the panel’s integrity.

“The job that Prandoni was given was a gift; it was payment for time served,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “He never in a thousand years would have gotten this job if he hadn’t worked directly with David Bernhardt for months at a time implementing the Trump agenda.”

Prandoni, whose new job was reported over the summer by E&E News, didn’t reply to a request for comment. He is among 32 political appointees whom the administration has sought to hire into civil service positions in the first three quarters of this year, a phenomenon known as “burrowing” that occurs at the end of every administration. Congress requires the Office of Personnel Management to provide summaries of such requests, since career jobs hold over from one administration to the next and generally have more protections against partisan attempts at removal.

Burrowing has a history that traces back to civil service reforms of the late 1880s, when Congress passed a law to try to ensure that jobs were awarded on merit rather than patronage. The number of hires sought under Trump is so far roughly similar to the tally of other recent administrations.

www.propublica.org/…

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