Saturday, June 30, 2012

White Houses Releases 2012 Annual Staff Salary Report

The payroll has grown, but Senior Policy Advisor Sam Kass is still not listed...
Late on Friday afternoon, the White House released its annual report to Congress on salaries, and also posted it online.  Required since 1995, the report gives the titles and salaries of Office Staff employees as well as staff on the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council. The top earners at the White House, such as President Obama's Chief of Staff Jack Lew and Senior Advisors Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe, and First Lady Michelle Obama's Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen, make $172,000 per annum. The lowest-paid employees earn $0.00 (not a misprint) per annum (there are two). Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass--the chief architect of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign--is missing from the report, as has been the case since 2009. (Kass, above)

The payroll has expanded since last year, going from $37.1 million in 2011 to $37.8 million in 2012. The number of employees listed this year increased by 14, from 454 in 2011 to 468 in 2012.

Given that the Let's Move! campaign has not had an Executive Director in more than eight months, following the departure in December of 2011 of the second appointee who held the post--and given that Kass has been filling the role--it seemed possible that he would be listed on the 2012 salary report. No: Kass is apparently still paid under his other title, Assistant Chef, which falls under residence staff. The President is not required to report the salaries of the residence staff to Congress. (Above: Kass with Mrs. Obama and a helper in the Kitchen Garden)

All of the White House chefs are ambassadors for Mrs. Obama's campaign, but Kass is the only one who travels constantly in support, as well as conducts policy meetings and creates things like the Let's Move! partnership with global grocery giant Walmart and other private-sector allies, such as Disney. The Walmart deal was part of the reason Kass was named #11 on Fast Company magazine's 2011 list of 100 Most Creative People in Business. The salaries of the two previous Let's Move! Executive Directors, Robin Schepper and Dr. Judith Palfrey, were never listed on salary reports.

But the salary for Capt. Brad Cooper, Executive Director for Mrs. Obama's other signature initiative, Joining Forces, is listed.  Cooper's position is noted as "detailee," and he makes $115,800 per annum. In April, the East Wing added an employee named Marissa Duswalt to the Let's Move! team, and like Cooper, she is listed in the salary report as a "detailee." Duswalt makes $51,630 annually.

Kass was actually introduced as the Executive Director of Let's Move! when he gave the keynote address at the Centers for Disease Control's Weight of the Nation conference in May of this year. But an East Wing spokesman told Obama Foodorama that the introducer "must have misspoken." Kass began his time at the White House with the dual title of Assistant Chef/Food Initiative Coordinator, and was given his glossier current title in 2010, news first reported here on Obama Foodorama.

Another employee of major interest to this archive, Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard, has not had a pay raise, which is true for every other employee. Bernard is also a Special Assistant to the President, and earns $118,000 annually, as he did last year. It's less than his female predecessor, Julianna Smoot, who made $150,000 annually when she held the post from March 2010 to March 2011. Smoot is now Deputy Campaign Manager for the President's re-election effort. Desiree Rogers, the Obamas' first Social Secretary, departed the White House in late March 2010, and made $113,000 per year. Bernard, the first man in White House History to be Social Secretary, has now lasted longer in his post than his two predecessors. (Bernard, above)

The President and Mrs. Obama for 2011 reported an adjusted gross income of $789,674 in 2011, and paid about 20% of it in federal taxes.

On this year's report, there are 68 Special Assistants to the President, 22 Assistants to the President and 24 Deputy Assistants. Kass seems to be a Very Special Assistant.

"Consistent with President Obama's commitment to transparency, this report is being publicly disclosed on our website as it is transmitted to Congress," the White House noted when posting the report.

The salary list:


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*Download the report here as a text file. And check out the 2011 report here.

*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama