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Viral text castigates First Lady Michelle Obama for requiring a paid staff of more than 20 people, claiming she has an "unprecedented" number of "attendants."

Description: Forwarded email
Circulating since: July 2009
Status: Mixed (see details below)

Example:
Email text contributed by Jerry T., Aug. 1, 2009:

First Lady Requires More Than Twenty Attendants

July 7, 2009 - Dr. Paul L. Williams

"In my own life, in my own small way, I have tried to give back to this country that has given me so much," she said. "See, that's why I left a job at a big law firm for a career in public service," Michelle Obama

No, Michele Obama does not get paid to serve as the First Lady and she doesn't perform any official duties. But this hasn't deterred her from hiring an unprecedented number of staffers to cater to her every whim and to satisfy her every request in the midst of the Great Recession. Just think Mary Lincoln was taken to task for purchasing china for the White House during the Civil War. And Mamie Eisenhower had to shell out the salary for her personal secretary.

How things have changed! If you're one of the tens of millions of Americans facing certain destitution, earning less than subsistence wages stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart or serving up McDonald cheeseburgers, prepare to scream and then come to realize that the benefit package for these servants of Miz Michelle are the same as members of the national security and defense departments and the bill for these assorted lackeys is paid by John Q. Public:

1. $172,2000 - Sher, Susan (Chief Of Staff)

2. $140,000 - Frye, Jocelyn C. (Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy And Projects For The First Lady

3. $113,000 - Rogers, Desiree G. (Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary)

4. $102,000 - Johnston, Camille Y. (Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady)

5. Winter, Melissa E. (Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)

6. $90,000 - Medina, David S. (Deputy Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)

7. $84,000 - Lelyveld, Catherine M. (Director and Press Secretary to the First Lady)

8. $75,000 - Starkey, Frances M. (Director of Scheduling and Advance for the First Lady)

9. $70,000 - Sanders, Trooper (Deputy Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady)

10. $65,000 - Burnough, Erinn J. (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)

11. Reinstein, Joseph B. (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)

12. $62,000 - Goodman, Jennifer R. (Deputy Director of Scheduling and Events Coordinator For The First Lady)

13. $60,000 - Fitts, Alan O. (Deputy Director of Advance and Trip Director for the First Lady)

14. Lewis, Dana M. (Special Assistant and Personal Aide to the First Lady)

15. $52,500 - Mustaphi, Semonti M. (Associate Director and Deputy Press Secretary To The First Lady)

16. $50,000 - Jarvis, Kristen E. (Special Assistant for Scheduling and Traveling Aide To The First Lady)

17. $45,000 - Lechtenberg, Tyler A. (Associate Director of Correspondence For The First Lady)

18. Tubman, Samantha (Deputy Associate Director, Social Office)

19. $40,000 - Boswell, Joseph J. (Executive Assistant to the Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)

20. $36,000 - Armbruster, Sally M. (Staff Assistant to the Social Secretary)

21. Bookey, Natalie (Staff Assistant)

22. Jackson, Deilia A. (Deputy Associate Director of Correspondence for the First Lady)

There has never been anyone in the White House at any time that has created such an army of staffers whose sole duties are the facilitation of the First Lady's social life. One wonders why she needs so much help, at taxpayer expense, when even Hillary, only had three; Jackie Kennedy one; Laura Bush one; and prior to Mamie Eisenhower social help came from the President's own pocket.



Analysis: It's true that if you include the White House Social Secretary and the various deputies to that position, First Lady Michelle Obama oversees a paid staff of at least 22 people, according to the 2009 Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff.

That's as compared to Laura Bush's staff of 18 during the final year of the G.W. Bush administration (2008). In other words, under Michelle Obama the size of the First Lady's staff grew about 20% over that of her predecessor.

It's disingenuous to describe this as "unprecedented."

It's equally disingenuous to refer to the members of Michelle Obama's staff as "attendants."

But that's politics, isn't it? Carry on.


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Sources and further reading:

Obama White House Staff and Salaries
About.com: U.S. Gov't Info, 15 August 2009

Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff
White House, 1 July 2009

2008 White House Office Staff List - Salary
Washington Post, 24 July 2008


Last updated 02/04/12

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