The highest paid staffer in the Trump White House isn’t the president’s lead attorney, national security adviser, top economic official or even the newest press secretary.
Instead it’s one of acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s closest aides and his de facto spokesman inside the West Wing, whose official title is senior adviser to the chief of staff for strategy and stakeholder engagement.
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John Czwartacki, who goes by the nickname “CZ,” earns $239,595 annually. That’s roughly $36,000 more than his boss, Mulvaney, and roughly $56,000 more than the top echelon of White House staff whose pay is capped at $183,000 per year, according to the latest release of White House staff salaries.
Czwartacki earns so much more than other West Wing aides because he is on detail from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CFPB’s most senior staffers can earn anywhere from $181,000 to $259,500. The pay scale at that agency and other federal regulators is higher because the federal government assumes it must pay more competitive salaries to attract talent with specific skills and not lose potential aides and regulators to Wall Street.
A spokesperson for the CFPB confirmed Czwartacki is on temporary detail to the White House and “is not involved in any bureau matters during his detail.”
“The White House is reimbursing the bureau for his salary,” the spokesperson added.
The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment.
While it is not unusual for agencies to detail aides to the White House, the seemingly indefinite nature of Czwartacki’s appointment is atypical. Usually, details last for roughly six months or a well-defined period of time, according to current and former administration officials.
The White House counsel’s office, for instance, traditionally culls lawyers from agencies for temporary rotations. Military officers also frequently are detailed to the West Wing.
But Czwartacki, who has worked in the West Wing since January, has no clear plans to return to the CFPB or take a permanent job in the White House that would come with a substantial cut in pay.
Czwartacki came to the White House from the CFPB and Office of Management and Budget, where he also worked as a top aide to Mulvaney. He served in the Trump transition and is a longtime communications operative with a Washington resume that includes stints on Capitol Hill, at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and for Verizon. He and Emma Doyle, assistant to the president and principal deputy chief of staff, are Mulvaney’s closest aides in the West Wing.
Out of the roughly 19 White House staffers who earn the top salary of $183,000, three are top aides who Mulvaney installed in the West Wing, including Doyle; Joe Grogan, director of the Domestic Policy Council; and Robert Blair, assistant to the president and senior adviser to the chief of staff.
Mulvaney also benefits from earning a higher salary as a West Wing staffer detailed from an agency. Technically, he is still on loan from the budget office and earns $203,500.