Chad F. Wolf is the acting Secretary of Homeland Security and Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy, and Plans. He previously served in several positions in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including as Chief of Staff of the Transportation Security Administration and Chief of Staff to DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. He was an architect of the Trump administration’s family separation policy.
From 2005 to 2016, he was a lobbyist, helping clients to secure contracts from the Transportation Security Administration, his previous employer.
Education and early career
Wolf is originally from Plano, Texas. He graduated from Plano East Senior High School and then attended Collin College on a tennis scholarship. Wolf then earned a B.S. in U.S. history from Southern Methodist University.
He worked as a staffer for Republican Senators Phil Gramm, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and then Chuck Hagel, for whom he worked for two and a half years. From 2002 to 2005, Wolf worked in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), becoming Assistant Administrator for Transportation Security Policy in 2005. From October 2005 to 2016, he was Vice President and Senior Director at Wexler & Walker, a now-defunct lobbying firm. He helped clients obtain contracts from the TSA, his previous employer.
Return to Department of Homeland Security
In 2018 he became Chief of Staff of DHS under Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. While working for Nielsen, he was an early architect of the family separation policy. He later testified to Congress that his function was to provide information to the Secretary and “not to determine whether it was the right or wrong policy,” though he agreed with the decision to end the policy. He also testified that he was not involved in the initial development of the policy by the Executive Office of the President and the Attorney General, though this statement was disputed based on internal documents.
He then became Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Plans, Analysis & Risk, a Senior Executive Service position not subject to Senate confirmation. He concurrently served as Acting Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy, and Plans. He was nominated in February 2019 to serve permanently in the Under Secretary role, and his confirmation hearing was held that June, but the nomination was delayed by Senator Jacky Rosen to protest poor conditions for children at DHS facilities.
Wolf’s appointment as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security came after the departure of Kevin McAleenan was announced on November 1, 2019. The fact that he had previously lobbied for the National Association of Software and Services Companies, which was in favor of the H-1B visa program, led to criticism from groups favoring more restrictive immigration policies, but the Trump administration defended his record and privately asked Republican senators not to oppose his appointment.
The administration waited for Wolf’s confirmation as Under Secretary before appointing him to the Acting Secretary role, to avoid appointing him as a principal officer from a non-Senate-confirmed position, which many scholars and former government officials have argued is unconstitutional. DHS then had to move the Under Secretary position earlier in the line of succession, because the 210-day period in which an acting official may be named without a pending permanent nomination had expired, mandating that the duties of the Secretary must be performed by the department’s seniormost confirmed official.
Wolf was confirmed as Under Secretary on November 13, 2019 on a 54–41 vote, and was sworn in as acting Secretary of Homeland Security the same day. On November 15, House Democrats Bennie Thompson and Carolyn Maloney requested that the Comptroller General of the United States review the legality of Wolf’s appointment on the basis that former Acting Secretary McAleenan did not have authority to change the department’s line of succession, asserting that former Secretary Nielsen had not properly placed McAleenan first in the line of succession before resigning, and additionally that McAleenan’s change came after the 210-day limit to his authority had expired.
In February 2020, Wolf announced that the Trump administration was revoking New York residents’ ability to participate in Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler programs, in response to the state’s “sanctuary” immigration policies, which jeopardized the government’s ability to effectively vet travelers. The move prompted the State of New York to sue the administration.
In July 2020, Wolf sent federal agents dressed in camouflage and tactical gear to Portland, Oregon, where the agents used tear gas on protestors and pulled protestors into unmarked vehicles. The agents did not have obvious marking or identification. In the past, far-right militias had worn camouflage and tactical gear in clashes with other protestors in Portland, which sowed confusion. Oregon Governor Kate Brown described the action as “abuse of power,” and accused Wolf of “provoking confrontation for political purposes.” Portland mayor Ted Wheeler said it was “an attack on our democracy.” Wolf said the protestors were a “violent mob” and “violent anarchists.” The New York Times reported that an internal DHS memo had been presented to Wolf which said prior to the deployment that the federal agents in question had not been specifically trained in riot control or mass demonstrations.
Wolf is married and has two sons.
President Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck.
.. In at least two cases, the appointments may have already led to violations of the administration’s own ethics rules. But evaluating if and when such violations have occurred has become almost impossible because the Trump administration is secretly issuing waivers to the rules.
Michael Catanzaro .. was working as a lobbyist for major industry clients such as Devon Energy of Oklahoma, an oil and gas company, and Talen Energy of Pennsylvania, a coal-burning electric utility, as they fought Obama-era environmental regulations, including the landmark Clean Power Plan.
.. Chad Wolf, who spent the past several years lobbying to secure funding for the Transportation Security Administration to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a new carry-on luggage screening device.
two officials joined the agency from the K Street lobbying corridor .. where they fought some of the Obama administration’s signature labor rules, including a policy requiring financial advisers to act in a client’s best interest
.. the president eliminated an ethics provision that prohibits lobbyists from joining agencies they lobbied in the prior two years.
.. Mr. Trump’s appointees are also far wealthier and have more complex financial holdings and private-sector ties
.. comply with federal ethics laws, such as a prohibition on using a government post to personally profit.
.. made it easier for former lobbyists in the government to get waivers that would let them take up matters that could benefit former clients.
.. sharing them is no longer required.
.. D. J. Gribbin, the council’s infrastructure specialist, previously worked for Macquarie, a bank that specializes in infrastructure deals
.. Shakira Knight .. as a lobbyist for Fidelity
.. she was registered to work on retirement issues, including the so-called fiduciary rule
.. under Mr. Trump’s executive order, Ms. Knight should probably be barred for two years from participating in decisions that would affect the fiduciary rule.
Geoffrey Burr .. who was a lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractors, which pressed the agency on its overtime pay rule, wage requirements for government contracts and an additional half-dozen or so other regulations
.. Mr. Burr would probably not have been able to join the Labor Department.
.. Such potential conflicts are showing up across the federal government.
.. Executives at Anagogic Corp .. CT scans, which are already used broadly in the medical field and on checked baggage. The company now wants the T.S.A. to use them in the nation’s 2,400 airport checkpoint security lanes, a move that could be worth at least $500 million in equipment sales.
.. Mr. Wolf’s Twitter account on Friday still identified him as a lobbyist and displayed posts from last year urging the T.S.A. to buy the devices.
.. A T.S.A. spokesman agreed to arrange an interview with Mr. Wolf — who worked at the agency during the Bush administration before becoming a lobbyist — but canceled it when told about the topic in detail.
.. Lance Leggitt, who serves as chief of staff to Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, worked last year as a lobbyist for 10 different health care companies
treatments .. carry list prices of more than $250,000 a year.
.. We know people coming in who have conflicts, and we cannot see what restrictions they are under, if any.”
.. Even if the rules are enforced, so many senior officials will be required to recuse themselves that “they will have a hard time getting their job done.”