Trump appointee resigns over “Schedule F” EO
- By Nathan Abse
- Oct 23, 2020
A senior administration official has resigned in protest over President Trump’s latest Executive Order—an edict which, if implemented, will allow the president and his political appointees to fire tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of top civil servants at will.
“I hereby tender my resignation as Member and Chair of the Federal Salary Council,” Ron Sanders, who for two years has served in that capacity, wrote in his resignation letter—as obtained and published by Politico (along with a news story). “I have concluded that as a matter of conscience, I can no longer serve him or his Administration.”
Sanders went on to state that the EO was the last straw.
“On its surface, the President’s Executive Order purports to serve a legitimate and laudable purpose...that is, to hold career Federal employees ‘more accountable’ for their performance,” he wrote. “However, … the Executive Order is nothing more than a smokescreen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process.”
Indeed the new executive order, EO 13597 issued Oct. 21, is clearly aimed at doing away with any appeals process for civil servants in many higher-level jobs who agency heads and presidents might want to fire.
“Federal employees are legally and duty-bound to be nonpartisan,” as Sanders notes in his letter (see the text on the Politico site). “[They] take an oath to preserve and protect our Constitution and the rule of law ... not to be loyal to a particular President or Administration.”
“I took that same oath, and despite being a life-long Republican (I was even named after Ronald Reagan), I would like to think that I lived up to it, even as I served three Democratic and three Republican Presidents,” he continued. “Yet the President’s Executive Order seeks to make loyalty to him the litmus test for many thousands of career civil servants, and that is something I cannot be part of.”
President Trump named Sanders to the FSC, which helps guide presidents on adjusting federal salaries by area—also known as locality pay, in 2017. Some news reports note that in addition to making it far easier to fire large swathes of federal officials—with or without cause—the new EO would also facilitate converting political appointees into civil servants, should a president or agency management want to do so.
A slew of articles and opinion pieces has followed the president’s controversial EO. Most recently, Laurie Garrett—a scientist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Coming Plague, which foreshadowed the current pandemic—has slammed the order in an opinion piece, published on CNN. She calls it an order “the likes of which has never been seen in a democracy … It is an edict expected under a dictatorship, a banana republic or a military regime. And it appears to stifle the President's opponents within the government, posing a particular danger should it affect policymakers who are working tirelessly to fight the Covid-19 epidemic.” In the coming days, the White House and its allies in Congress can be expected to defend the move.