By ANDREW RESTUCCIA and KYLE CHENEY
July 27, 2017
A candidate for a senior position at the Department of Homeland Security withdrew from consideration on Wednesday, citing President Donald Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military.
John Fluharty, a former executive director of the Delaware Republican party, informed a DHS official in an email Wednesday morning that he was pulling out of contention to be the assistant secretary of partnership and engagement at the department.
“As I mentioned in our conversation, I am a strong advocate for diversity, both in the Republican Party and in government,” Fluharty wrote in an email obtained by POLITICO. “The President’s announcement this morning — that he will ban all of those who identify as transgender from military service — runs counter to my deeply held beliefs, and it would be impossible for me to commit to serving the Administration knowing that I would be working against those values.”
Fluharty, who is openly gay, said he interviewed for the job on Tuesday, one day before Trump’s surprise tweet that the government “will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity” in the U.S. military.
The decision blindsided much of the federal government, including many at the Defense Department and in the White House. It has led to widespread confusion about the what will happen to openly transgender members of the military, and the White House has not yet provided clarity on the issue.
Department officials confirmed Fluharty was under consideration, though it’s unclear whether he was in line to get the job at the department.
“He was one of many candidates being considered and he withdrew from consideration,” DHS spokesman David Lapan wrote in an email. “We’re not aware of anyone else who withdrew for that reason.”
DHS has had trouble filling the assistant secretary of partnership and engagement position. David Clarke, the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, who had come under criticism for a series of deaths at the jails he oversees, was under consideration for the job. But DHS announced in June that he was no longer in contention.
The assistant secretary, which does not require Senate confirmation, coordinates outreach to state, local and tribal officials and law enforcement.
Fluharty said he was contacted about the prospect of applying for the position last week, and agreed to do the interview on Tuesday. Though he was interested in the post, he opted against it after the president’s announcement.
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