Headhunters have indicated difficulties in finding jobs for former Trump Cabinet officials in the months since leaving their posts, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Recruiters who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Post that former President Trump’s significantly low approval rating upon leaving office, as well as being the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, has deterred companies from hiring former administration officials.
The headhunters said that offering a board seat to someone associated with the Trump administration could trigger a revolt from customers, employees or shareholders.
“Boards don’t need trouble or criticism,” one headhunter told the Post. “If you want to stay away from all that potential tarnish, that’s easy: You just don’t go near it.”
The Post noted that one of the former officials struggling to find work is Elaine Chao, Trump’s Transportation secretary, despite the fact that she previously gained roles on the boards for companies such as Dole Foods, Protective Life and Wells Fargo following her role as Labor secretary under President George W. Bush.
Two headhunters who personally consulted Chao told the Post that top executives have been hesitant to bring on Chao and others.
The Post’s findings come after Chao stepped down from her role as Transportation secretary the day after the Jan. 6 riot, during with a mob of pro-Trump rioters breached Capitol security. The event left several people, including a Capitol Police officer dead.
Before the riot, Trump had encouraged his supporters during a rally on the National Mall to march to the Capitol and demand Congress halt the certification of the 2020 Electoral College results.
In an email to staff, Chao said the incident had “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”
One of the headhunters who spoke anonymously to the Post due to the sensitive nature of the discussions said that some companies that had been contacted regarding a position for Chao said it was “too soon” after Trump’s presidency to bring her on.
However, a source close to Chao said she is “evaluating a number of invitations to join various corporate boards while helping former colleagues land as well.”
“She’s interested in new economy companies, has already accepted board positions and is currently in various stages of finalizing agreements with them and others,” the person said.
Chao, who is married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), declined to comment to the Post herself.
The Post on Wednesday noted that at this point in 2009, four major companies had acquired members of George W. Bush’s Cabinet to serve as directors.
By contrast, out of the approximately half of S&P 500 companies that have filed their 2021 investor disclosure reports, no former Trump Cabinet official is listed among the 108 new or prospective board members, according to Insightia data reviewed by the Post.
Other Trump administration officials joined Chao in stepping down in the days following the Jan. 6 attack, with only weeks to go in Trump’s presidency, including former Education secretary Betsy DeVos and special envoy to Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney, who also previously served as Trump’s chief of staff.