On Friday, after a week of speculation over which conservative politician would be dumb enough to take the job, President Trump announced that he was replacing outgoing chief of staff John Kelly with current Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney.
Mulvaney will be the third person to serve as chief of staff under Trump, replacing Kelly, who was reportedly brought on to try to control the mercurial Trump following the resignation of Reince Priebus after only six months in the position. Mulvaney’s official title hedges the permanence of the position, with Trump referring to him Friday as the new “acting” chief.
Traditionally, the role of chief of staff is said to be the most powerful in Washington, with close influence over the president’s decision-making. Under Trump, however, the job has gained a reputation as frustrating — with headlines this week sarcastically asking things like “Why Does No One Want the Least Secure Job in Washington?” and late-night TV hosts mocking the job that nobody seems to want. Over the past week since Trump announced Kelly’s departure, at least five prominent candidates for the role — from Vice President Pence’s current CoS Nick Ayers to North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows and even Chris Christie — have publicly said they didn’t want the job.
So on Friday, it wasn’t surprising to see the internet explode with jokes about how Mick Mulvaney drew the short straw in becoming Trump’s next babysitter.
Mick Mulvaney pulls the short straw in the White House until Santa leaves a new WH Chief of Staff under the tree.
— Claire Potter (@TenuredRadical) December 14, 2018
It’s official. Mick Mulvaney drew the short straw. pic.twitter.com/NFRLgJg5fP
— Steve Redmond (@sjredmond) December 14, 2018
“Wait, what? Ah fuck” – Mick Mulvaney, 5:19 pm
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) December 14, 2018
But who is Mulvaney? Unsurprisingly, the Irish Catholic conservative Tea Party Republican from North Carolina has a solid record of anti-LGBTQ comments and policy decisions made over his decade-long career in public service.
Mulvaney’s homophobic platform started early; after entering politics in 2006 with election to the South Carolina statehouse, one of his very first moves was banning same-sex marriage by sponsoring an state bill that amended the constitution to make “marriage between a man and woman the only domestic union recognized by the state.”
In 2008 Mulvaney ran for a state senate seat that had unexpectedly opened up by campaigning, in part, by denouncing the state’s tourism board for “spending taxpayer money…advertising SC to gay tourists in Europe.”
A scandal erupted during the 2008 campaign, too, when illegal robocalls linked a made-up group called ‘The Alliance for the Advancement of Gays and Lesbians’ to Mulvaney’s opponent in order to make her seem too far left for her voters. News reports suggested that Mulvaney’s campaign ordered the phony calls, which told voters his opponent supported abortion and same-sex marriage even though she said publicly that she opposed both.
In 2011, Mulvaney graduated from his position as state senator after being elected to the U.S. House. He didn’t waste any time pushing homophobic policy, signing a letter alongside 85 other congressman that called on the U.S. Senate to keep the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a former federal law that defined marriage as strictly heterosexual.
Mulvaney co-sponsored the First Amendment Defense Act in June 2015, legislation designed to create a homophobia loophole in relation to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision that month legalizing same-sex marriage. The FADA legislation Mulvaney signed was one of the first to frame anti-LGBTQ views under the rubric of “religious liberty,” which has since become a hallmark of the Trump administration.
Not satisfied with limiting his views to homophobia, Mulvaney has also opposed civil rights for transgender Americans, signing onto a 2016 letter demanding the Obama administration explain its protections for trans students in schools in the face of Republican concerns for the “privacy, “discomfort,” and emotional strain imposed on other students during use of bathroom, showering, and changing facilities and overnight accommodations as these schools comply with this guidance.”
Current White House chief of staff John Kelly is expected to leave the job at the end of December.