The Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest government agency.
By Sheryl Estrada
President-elect Donald Trump, a former reality TV star, may choose another reality TV star, Sarah Palin, for a top cabinet position.
A close Palin aide and a top Trump transition official said the former Alaska governor is being considered for the role of secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs, according to an ABC News report. The transition official confirmed that Palin has had discussions with the transition team.
“I feel as though the megaphone I have been provided can be used in a productive and positive way to help those desperately in need,” the Tea Party champion recently told Trump transition officials.
On Wednesday, Palin shared on her Facebook page her son-in-law and Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer’s post, which includes a link to the ABC News report, a SarahPAC video and the following message:
“We should be grateful we’ll soon have a commander-in-chief who will champion our vets and honor the promises our nation made; a pro-private sector individual who surely understands bigger government is NOT the answer; a president who promised to drain the swamp and clean up all government corruption… all things our vets and active duty troops deserve.”
She also shared the Facebook message and article on her Twitter account:
We should be grateful we’ll soon have a commander-in-chief who will champion our vets and honor the promises our… https://t.co/lb5wdrlrWu
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) November 30, 2016
The Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest government agency, with more than 300,000 federal employees and a budget of $182 billion for 2017, ABC News reports.
The current secretary, Robert A. McDonald, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 29, 2014. McDonald, a former chief executive of Procter & Gamble, is an Army veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne Division. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in the top 2 percent of the class of 1975. McDonald served as the Brigade Adjutant for the Corps of Cadets and was recognized by The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturing, and Commerce as the most distinguished graduate in academics, leadership and physical education.
Palin, the first Republican woman nominated for the vice presidency in 2008, served as the ninth governor of Alaska from 2006 until her resignation in 2009. From 2010 to 2015, she provided political commentary for Fox News. Palin starred on the reality TV shows, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” and “Amazing America with Sarah Palin.” She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism from the University of Idaho.
Similar to Trump, Palin prides herself as a maverick, going rouge from the political mainstream. During the 2008 election, she defied instructions from the Republican Party nominee Sen. John McCain. While Trump touted his ability to “drain the swamp,” both also used divisive rhetoric on the campaign trail.
Palin endorsed Trump for president in January in Iowa, prior to the state’s caucuses.
Also in the running for the VA position is former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who visited Trump Tower on November 21. Rep. Jeff Miller and Gen. Keith Kellogg are other names that have surfaced.
During the presidential campaign, Trump found himself at odds with veterans groups, the population in which the secretary of veterans affairs serves.
At the Democratic National Convention in July, Khizr Khan, the father of an Iraq War veteran killed in action, admonished Trump for his hateful rhetoric and religious intolerance. As a result, Trump continuously insulted Khan and his wife, Ghazala. He demeaned all families who have lost loved ones in combat by touting his hard work, success and charitable giving as comparable sacrifices.
Veterans groups rebuked Trump for his actions. In August, the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW) Brian Duffy, the newly elected commander-in-chief, said, “Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression.”
The VFW statement said, in part:
“Trump has a history of lashing out after being attacked, but to ridicule a Gold Star Mother is out-of-bounds. … There are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed. Giving one’s life to nation is the greatest sacrifice, followed closely by all Gold Star families, who have a right to make their voices heard.”