In one of the clearest examples of the dangers of the revolving door in Washington, Donald Trump’s Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf’s former lobbying firm told him they were keeping his seat warm for his return during his tenure at DHS, according to records obtained by CREW. The firm was lobbying DHS at the time.
After being promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff at the agency in June 2017, Wolf sent an email with his new contact information to a Senior Vice President and Managing Director at Wexler Walker and expressed that he was “missing the office.”
The firm replied, “We will keep your seat warm if you ever want to return!”
Wexler Walker employees also reached out to Wolf themselves following his nomination for Chief of Staff at DHS. “Much deserved,” commented one Wexler Walker staff member. “Appreciate the note and hope all is well with the team,” Wolf responded. During Wolf’s tenure at DHS, several of Wolf’s former lobbying firm colleagues lobbied the agency, and Wexler Walker clients received millions in DHS contracts.
While Chief of Staff, Wolf helped connect young professionals linked to Wexler Walker to positions in DHS and the White House.
In an August 2018 thread of emails between Wolf and an individual who had met him at a Wexler Walker event and had ties with the firm’s then Executive Chairman Bob Walker, the individual asked to meet with Wolf to “discuss opportunities within DHS.” Wolf forwarded the email to DHS’s then Deputy Chief of Staff Evelyn Lim and copied DHS White House Liaison Michael Holley, mentioning that he believed the individual could fill a spot at the White House. Holley ultimately emailed and appeared to have vetted the individual.
In February 2019, a former Wexler Walker employee sent Wolf the resume of a junior employee who had worked at the firm for six months, stressing how the individual would be “a great fit with the DHS mission.” Wolf forwarded the email to a colleague, asking the recipient to see if the individual’s interests aligned with DHS.
Wolf also used his official email to forward a message from the Wexler Walker CEO, who was soliciting donations for an event to raise money for wounded warrior and adaptive athlete charities.
Wolf seemed to be aware that his past with Wexler Walker raised questions upon his nomination. In emails to acting DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton, he appeared to express concerns about a Politico blurb describing his years at the lobbying firm following the announcement of his appointment. “Is this on PoliticoPro or free site?” he asked Houlton, who assured Wolf that the blurb was only in the morning newsletter and not online.
This is far from the first example of Wolf acting with little regard for ethics in his position. During his tenure at the agency, Wolf violated the Hatch Act multiple times, deployed heavily armed federal agents to American cities to quell political protests just before the 2020 election and continued to serve in his position even after a judge found he had been illegally appointed. The political consulting firm for which Wolf’s wife was an executive also appeared to benefit from Wolf’s time at DHS, receiving over $6 million in contracts from the agency. While the documents CREW obtained do not show any illegal activity, they serve as a reminder of Wolf’s possible conflicts of interest and just how swampy the Trump administration was.