On Monday, Axios reported that President Donald Trump plans to place a loyalist at the head of the Office of Personnel Management — an agency at the center of the White House’s recent and ongoing loyalty purges. According to news reports and documents obtained by American Oversight, John Gibbs, a senior appointee at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a former conservative commentator who had frequent contacts with far-right groups and spread conspiracy theories about the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
Gibbs would be replacing former OPM Director Dale Cabaniss, who resigned suddenly in March. Cabaniss’ resignation reportedly came after poor treatment from John McEntee, the head of the Presidential Personnel Office who, since assuming his position in February, has spearheaded Trump’s efforts to rid the federal government of officials deemed insufficiently loyal.
American Oversight has been investigating Gibbs since 2017, when the press reported on his appointment to a senior role at HUD despite his lack of qualifications. In 2018, CNN reported that Gibbs had spread false conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman having partaken in Satanic rituals.
Our Freedom of Information Act requests and litigation have extracted numerous documents from Gibbs’ time at HUD, including his emails with groups and individuals outside the government. Those records show multiple engagements with Tim Goeglein, the vice president of Focus on the Family (FOTF), a far-right anti-LGBTQ organization. In one particularly notable instance, Gibbs appears to have asked FOTF for feedback on proposed removals of marriage tax penalties and the dependent child credit for children of unmarried parents. FOTF agreed with removing a marriage penalty but said “removing the exemption for children of unmarried parents seems harsh to us. It’s hard to advocate a change that could put more children into deeper poverty.” Goeglein repeatedly refers to Gibbs as his “pal.”
Gibbs’ resume, also obtained through FOIA, highlights his prior role as a conservative commentator “advocating for Donald Trump for President … all from an America First perspective” and “being regularly featured on Real Clear Politics and Drudge Report.” He highlights his writings for the Federalist, including criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and advancing unfounded claims about voter fraud.
American Oversight is continuing to litigate for Gibbs’ communications with nongovernmental organizations during his time at HUD, as well as for his communications and meetings with the White House. You can also read more about our investigation into Trump’s post-impeachment purges here.
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