President Trump has decided to part ways with 16 remaining HIV/AIDS council staff members. This comes after six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on the disease resigned after they claimed Trump and the administration planned to pass legislation that would harm those living with AIDS. The firing came as a surprise to the remaining council staff as their contracts were not yet up.
According to Newsweek, the remaining staff members found out about their termination via a letter delivered by FedEx. One of the members who had resigned back in June, Scott A. Schoettes, announced the firing of his former colleagues in a post on Twitter.
“Remaining #HIV/AIDS council members booted [email protected] No respect for their service. Dangerous that #Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed,” Chicago-based HIV/AIDS activist and lawyer wrote.
The staff was allegedly given the opportunity to reapply for the positions they were just fired from. Gabriel Maldonado who is the CEO of Riverside, an HIV/AIDS group, thinks that this mass firing was based solely on political partisanship.
“I can only speculate,” he told the Washington Blade. “Like any administration, they want their own people there. Many of us were Obama appointees. I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018.”
If this is indeed the case, the firings would not be considered out of the ordinary as this is common practice. During Obama’s administration, counsel advisors from various projects were dismissed in favor of putting those with the same political ideology in their place.
George W. Bush’s council members were let go once the Obama administration came into the White House.
The Huffington Post reported that PACHA was created in 1995 with the goal of “providing information, advice, and recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective treatment, prevention, and cure of HIV disease and AIDS.”
Trump and his administration have yet to speak on the matter. It’s unclear if the administration has applicants who are currently qualified to take over the vacant positions.