First women join Cabi­net choices

In Ha­ley and DeVos, Trump looks past loy­al­ists

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By Christi Par­sons and Tracy Wilkin­son Los An­ge­les Times’ Joy Res­movits in Los An­ge­les con­trib­uted.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump named Cabi­net picks Wed­nes­day who would bring some gen­der and racial di­ver­sity to his administration, as well as a de­gree of po­lit­i­cal in­de­pen­dence, but raised ques­tions about his pledge to seek ex­pe­ri­ence in choos­ing stew­ards of vast gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cra­cies.

Trump’s picks for U.N. am­bas­sador, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Ha­ley, and for Ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary, Betsy DeVos, a bil­lion­aire ad­vo­cate of school vouch­ers, were the first two women named in a tran­si­tion that had been dom­i­nated by white, male Trump loy­al­ists.

Ha­ley is the daugh­ter of In­dian im­mi­grants.

Dr. Ben Car­son, who is black, also said Wed­nes­day that he is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion to serve as sec­re­tary of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment.

The se­lec­tions of­fer some po­lit­i­cal di­ver­sity and could buf­fer Trump from crit­i­cism that he was fill­ing out the top ech­e­lon of his administration with only peo­ple who had backed his cam­paign.

Ha­ley was crit­i­cal of Trump dur­ing the Repub­li­can pri­mary, en­dors­ing two of his op­po­nents be­fore fi­nally stand­ing along­side the even­tual nom­i­nee. DeVos was less out­spo­ken in her reser­va­tions but con­trib­uted to at least two of Trump’s ri­vals and went South Carolina Gov. Nikki Ha­ley, the daugh­ter of In­dian im­mi­grants, was of­fered the post of United Na­tions am­bas­sador. into the sum­mer nom­i­nat­ing con­ven­tion telling The Detroit News she wasn’t sure whether to back him.

Both are stal­warts of the Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment Trump so vig­or­ously chal­lenged.

But Ha­ley and Car­son, if he is cho­sen, would seem to con­tra­dict Trump’s state­ment a day ear­lier, in an in­ter­view with The New York Times, that he valued ex­per­tise in stock­ing his administration.

“We’re try­ing very hard to get the best peo­ple — not DeVos nec­es­sar­ily peo­ple that will be the most po­lit­i­cally cor­rect peo­ple be­cause that hasn’t been work­ing,” Trump had said.

“So we have re­ally ex­perts in the field. Some are known and some are not known, but they’re known within their field as be­ing the best. That’s very im­por­tant to me.”

Ha­ley, 44, a ris­ing star in the GOP, has lit­tle back­ground in for­eign af­fairs. Car­son, 65, is a re­tired neu­ro­sur­geon.

Days ago, a se­nior ad­viser said Car­son thought he lacked the back­ground needed to man­age a fed­eral agency.

Car­son didn’t want to take a po­si­tion that could “crip­ple the pres­i­dency,” Arm­strong Wil­liams, an ad­viser to Trump and Car­son, told the Hill news­pa­per.

HUD is re­spon­si­ble for ad­min­is­ter­ing low-in­come hous­ing as­sis­tance, fair hous­ing laws, hous­ing de­vel­op­ment and aid to neigh­bor­hoods in dis­tress.

On Wed­nes­day, how­ever, Car­son in­di­cated a change of heart.

“Af­ter se­ri­ous dis­cus­sions with the Trump tran­si­tion team, I feel that I can make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tribu- tion, par­tic­u­larly to mak­ing our in­ner cities great for ev­ery­one,” Car­son said on Face­book. “An an­nounce­ment is forth­com­ing about my role in help­ing to make Amer­ica great again.”

DeVos, 58, does have long ex­pe­ri­ence in ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy, ad­vo­cat­ing for con­ser­va­tive goals and tan­gling with teacher unions.

She and her fam­ily — her fa­ther-in-law co-founded Amway and has a for­tune that Forbes es­ti­mated at $5 bil­lion — are among the na­tion’s big­gest donors to the Repub­li­can Party and to Christian causes, in­clud­ing op­po­si­tion to same-sex mar­riage.

She is also a for­mer four-time chair of the Michi­gan Repub­li­can Party.

“Un­der her lead­er­ship, we will re­form the U.S. ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and break the bu­reau­cracy that is hold­ing our chil­dren back so that we can de­liver world-class ed­u­ca­tion and school choice to all fam­i­lies,” Trump said in a state­ment.

DeVos moved quickly Wed­nes­day to re­as­sure con­ser­va­tives on one is­sue — the Com­mon Core cur­ricu­lum stan­dards. She has been an ally of for­mer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who backed Com­mon Core.

“Many of you are ask­ing about Com­mon Core,” she wrote on Twit­ter. “To clar­ify, I am not a sup­porter — pe­riod.”

Her se­lec­tion sug­gests that Trump may make a pri­or­ity of back­ing vouch­ers — a long­time con­ser­va­tive goal that he en­dorsed dur­ing the cam­paign. Voucher pro­grams give tax funds to par­ents that they can use to pay for pri­vate or parochial schools if they find their lo­cal pub­lic schools un­sat­is­fac­tory.

DeVos has been a lead­ing ad­vo­cate.

Teacher unions, which op­pose vouch­ers, de­nounced the choice.

“Trump makes it loud and clear that his ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy will fo­cus on pri­va­tiz­ing, de­fund­ing and de­stroy­ing pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion in Amer­ica,” said Randi Wein­garten, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers.

SEAN RAYFORD/GETTY 2015

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