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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

So You Want To Go to Washington

Whenever there is a change of party control of the executive branch of the federal government, lots of jobs come open, and lots of ambitious and/or dedicated folk start scheming for ways to join the new administration. There’s even a handy-dandy publication–known as the “Plum Book”–put out by the House Committee on Government Reform that lays out available positions.
But in this particular transition, it’s becoming clear that job aspirants, and their family members, better be exceptionally tidy record-keepers, whether or not they’ve got potential conflicts-of-interest or the odd drunk-driving charge in their background. According to a Jackie Calmes article in The New York Times today, the basic questionnaire being distributed by the Obama transition team to those seeking “high-ranking positions” is a 63-point monster of a request for disclosure that goes beyond the usual have-you-been-a-lobbyist-or-felon stuff. Ever sent a potentially embarassing email? (Who hasn’t!). Cough it up. Ever done a blog post or set up a Facebook page? Send that along, please. Some questions clearly relate to issues that came up during the last Democratic transition in 1992. There’s one on “domestic help” that asks about the immigration status and witholding tax arrangements of nannies, housekeepers, and yard workers–a stumbling block, you may recall, for at least two potential Clinton administration Attorneys General. Notes Calmes:

The questionnaire includes 63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well, that are forcing job-seekers to rummage from basements to attics, in shoe boxes, diaries and computer archives to document both their achievements and missteps.

It’s not clear from the article exactly how far down the food chain this questionnaire is being applied. But those who face it must understand that after they past this test, there’s additional vetting by the FBI and the Office of Government Ethics.
As one of the worst record-keepers you’ll ever meet, I’m sure glad I’m not interested in a high-ranking job with the feds. But for those with that aspiration, perhaps the Obama vetting process will keep the crowds down.

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