A top Republican demanded answers Wednesday on how Leandra English, the woman Democrats are pushing to be acting director of the government’s top consumer advocacy agency, managed to “burrow” into her job and outlast the Obama administration.
Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said Ms. English held a political job at the Office of Personnel Management but managed to convert herself to a career civil service position early this year at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The process is called “burrowing,” and it is generally frowned upon, though it does happen somewhat regularly.
In Ms. English’s case, however, it’s taken on a higher profile now that she’s involved in a major lawsuit arguing that she is the rightful acting director of the CFPB, rather than Mick Mulvaney, the man President Trump named to the job last Friday.
“Based on Ms. English’s participation in politically-motivated litigation to prevent the president of the United States from appointing an acting director of the CFPB, I am concerned that the conversion of Ms. English into a career position was abused for political purposes,” Mr. Johnson said in a letter demanding answers from the OPM.
The OPM, the federal government’s chief human resources branch, is supposed to approve every move between a political position and a career civil service post.
But Mr. Johnson said that seemed a particularly troubling move in the case of Ms. English, who was herself a political appointee at the OPM at the time the agency approved her for a career position at CFPB.
The jump also boosted her salary by $11,000, Mr. Johnson said, and he said she was quickly moved around within CFPB, suggesting she was placed in the bureau for political purposes.
“After the election of President Trump but before his inauguration, Ms. English successfully turned a political appointment by President Obama at OPM into a career position at the CFPB through the approval of the then-acting director of the OPM, to whom she served as the principal deputy chief of staff,” the senator wrote.
The OPM said it had received the letter but didn’t have a comment. Ms. English’s lawyer handling her legal claim didn’t respond to a request for comment.