Running a business is a tough job requiring clarity, dedication and vulnerability. Imagine the pressure of running an entire country. The president’s advisors, assistants, and staffers who offer their experience and expertise have handsome salaries to match. How handsome, you ask?
Vice President Mike Pence earns just over $230,000, a salary frozen at 2010’s economic levels. Adjusted for a decade of annual growth, his payday would be closer to $243,000. Compared to his billionaire boss, Pence touts his thriftiness, boasting that he scores 2-for-1 deals on his suits.
Special Representative for Disaster Recovery Peter Brown comes in second behind Pence, bringing home a reported $190,000 salary. The White House appointed Brown, a former Homeland Security Advisor and rear admiral in the United States Coast Guard, to lead recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and subsequent earthquakes brought devastation to the island territory.
According to 2020’s personnel report, 22 members of the administration earned the maximum White House salary of $183,000. This top tier includes familiar names like:
Kellyanne Conway, a senior counselor to the president
Conway was the first woman in U.S. history to run a successful presidential campaign, and she has the president’s ear on a range of policy issues.
Kayleigh McEnany, the president’s press secretary.
A former Fox News producer and CNN political commentator, McEnany became the Republican National Committee spokesperson in 2017 before taking over the White House briefing room in April 2020.
Mark Meadows, the president’s Chief of Staff
North Carolina Representative Mark Meadows, chair of the House Freedom Caucus from 2017 to 2019, was considered one of the president’s closest allies on Capitol Hill. It came as no surprise when he resigned from Congress on March 30, 2020 and took on the role previously held by Mick Mulvaney the next day.
Stephen Miller, a senior advisor to the president on policy
After serving as communications director for then-senator Jeff Sessions, Miller joined the 2016 campaign as a policy advisor and maintains strong influence on the president’s immigration policy. Miller has also written prominent speeches for the president, including his inaugural address.
Peter Navarro, an assistant to the president for trade policy
Navarro, a Harvard University graduate, heads up the Office of Trade and Manufacturing policy, created by executive order in 2017. He also coordinates Defense Production Act policy, which the president activated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bringing home the bacon
Just beneath the president’s closest advisors, department directors and other administration officials are rewarded for hard work with impressive wages. They may not be at the top of the White House payroll, but these salaries are nothing to shake a stick at.
Five White House officials make $170,800. Chris Pilkerton, executive director of Opportunity Now, oversees efforts to encourage economic growth in under-resourced parts of the country. Senior Policy Advisor Martin Dannenfelser and Associate Director Sean McLean are batting in the same league, as well as Executive Clerk David Kalbaugh and Director of Records Management Philip Droege.
A number of staffers clock in just below at $168,000, including Ja’Ron Smith, an assistant to the president on domestic policy and the highest-ranking Black administration official. Others with similar earnings include Vincent Haley, an advisor for policy, strategy and speechwriting, and Desiree Sayle, director of presidential correspondence.
With over 400 staff, it’s important to remember that lower-wage jobs still have a crucial role in keeping the administration running smoothly.
Some of the president’s staff focus on policy and voters. Andrea Ramirez, director of Hispanic outreach, brings home $145,000, while Nicole Frazier, director of strategic partnerships and African American outreach, receives $106,000.
Others on the White House payroll have less public-facing roles. Chief Calligrapher Lee Clark, whose duties include lettering formal invitations to presidential events, makes $109,000, and Director of Stenography Dominique Dansky Bari earns $98,900. And let’s not forget the interns! White House interns are paid in course credit and hands-on experience, but Adrienne Schrodt, director of the White House Internship Program and Volunteer Management Office, brings home $106,000 for her role coordinating hundreds of up-and-coming public servants.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, each forgoes their White House salaries. Both act as close advisors to the president on policy issues and help carry out the president’s orders across the federal government.
And how could we forget President Donald Trump himself? On the campaign, he pledged to donate his annual $400,000 salary. The president has donated to almost a dozen federal agencies, including the National Parks Service, the Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office. Most recently, he handed off his 2019 fourth quarter paycheck to the Department of Health and Human Services amid its efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.