Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Senior Policy Advisor Sam Kass Discusses A Sequester Furlough, But White House Won't Confirm...

Is the assistant chef and  Let's Move! Executive Director really going on furlough? "I don't know," Kass says...
President Obama and First Lady Obama's Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy and assistant chef, Sam Kass, said on Tuesday afternoon that he may be placed on furlough along with other White House staff due to sequester-related budget cuts.  During a White House meeting with agriculture journalists, Kass discussed the subject. (Above, Kass speaking to the journalists)

"We're being furloughed.  Shin and I are getting cut," Kass said, seeming to joke.

He was naming Shin Inouye, the West Wing communications staffer charged with taking care of "specialty media," who was monitoring the reporters' meeting.  But when asked to specifically confirm that he is indeed being furloughed, Kass backpedaled.  

"I don't know," Kass said.

"I would refer you to what Jay said in the briefing room about furloughs," Inouye said.  "That's all I can say."  

Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week that "within the Executive Office of the President, several offices have sent furlough notices to their staff," including 480 employees in the OMB.  "Additional furloughs, as well as pay cuts, remain possibilities for additional White House employees," Carney said.

Kass was named Executive Director for Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! campaign last month, but said he still cooks for the First Family "five nights a week."  Mrs. Obama's East Wing Press Secretary Hannah August, the usual point-person for all Kass-related inquires, declined to confirm if Kass is indeed being furloughed.  

"Don’t have any other details to provide," August said in an email.

Kass said on Tuesday that Let's Move! has "no budget," and will not be impacted by sequester-related budget cuts. 

Kass has been paid as a member of the Residence staff...
Despite being the President and Mrs. Obama's food Policy Advisor since 2009, a position created to specifically accommodate his talents, Kass to date has been paid as a chef, a member of the White House Residence staff.  He has never been included in the 'Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff,' a required release since 1995 that is annually delivered to Congress, which lists the title and salary of every White House Office employee.  None of the domestic/Residence staff appear on this list.  Nor did either of the two previous Let's Move! Executive Directors.

How Kass is paid pay may have changed since he was named Let's Move! Executive Director.

*Photo by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama 

*UPDATE:  An earlier version of this post stated that Kass and Inouye were going to a meeting about furlough issues following their meeting with reporters; they were going to a different meeting.