It may seem odd, given that we are still two weeks away from the presidential election, but we are already starting to get calls from both Republican and Democratic aspirants for presidential appointments in the next administration, even before we know whose administration it will be. Presidential appointees must endure a highly intrusive “vetting” process by the White House (or before the inauguration, by the transition team), and then in some cases must survive the Senate confirmation process. Particularly for high net worth individuals with complex financial holdings that could present conflicts of interest, the vetting process can be lengthy, perilous, and excruciatingly uncomfortable. Savvy aspirants know what they are in for and begin planning early. Sometimes very early — as in, even before the election.
Covington is one of a small handful of firms that have specialized “vetting” practices. The vetting process tends to ramp up around the time of the presidential election, and then again a couple of years into the new administration, when key positions start to turn over. The individual who is being vetted may face a wide array of questions relating to tax returns, sources of income, investments, past and present affiliations and club memberships, published and non-published writings, extramarital dalliances, drug use, and other awkward topics. There are highly arcane government ethics related disclosure rules that come into play and many forms to be filled out. There are FBI background check interviews to be endured.
Few who go down this path really know what they are in for, unless they’ve done it before. It ain’t pretty.
We plan to occasionally blog about the vetting process after the election. For now, readers may be interested in a little primer we prepared during the last vetting “season,” which lays out the key things you need to know if you are contemplating putting yourself on the chopping block and being considered by either campaign’s transition team for a presidential appointment.