Hillary Clinton names former interior secretary Ken Salazar to lead transition planning

Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Aug 15, 2016.
Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Aug 15, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Mrs Hillary Clinton's campaign on Tuesday (Aug 16) announced that former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will lead the team planning her transition to the White House if she wins the November election.

The unveiling of the Clinton-Kaine Transition Project marks an intensifying of preparations that began months ago. The planning will be based in Washington, apart from the campaign's Brooklyn headquarters.

The four co-chairs are Mr Tom Donilon, former National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama; former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm; Centre for American Progress President Neera Tanden; and Ms Maggie Williams, the director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics and Mrs Clinton's second 2008 campaign manager.

Ms Heather Boushey, the executive director of the Washington Centre for Equitable Growth, is the project's chief economist.

Two campaign policy advisers, Mr Ed Meier and Ms Ann O'Leary, are moving over to the transition project to manage its operations full-time. Senior campaign adviser Minyon Moore, a longtime Clinton aide, is secretary.

"While our campaign remains focused on the task at hand of winning in November, Hillary Clinton wants to be able to get to work right away as president-elect on building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top," campaign chairman and transition project president John Podesta said in a statement.

"These individuals, who bring a deep level of experience in the work of presidential transitions, will help us build a team that is ready to govern after the general election."

The transition group was formally established two weeks ago as a so-called 501(c)(4), a type of tax-exempt group recognised by the Internal Revenue Service.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this month that the Obama administration benefited from "effective planning" by the George W. Bush administration and that Mr Obama wanted to do the same for his successor. 

"The president aspires to meet, if not exceed, that very high standard that was set by the Bush White House," Mr Earnest said.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough met with the Obama Cabinet in March to initiate transition planning in the agencies, and a White House task force and an agency committee began meetings in June.

In April, a top Obama aide met with the Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns, along with advisers to other candidates who were still vying for their parties' presidential nominations, during a two-day session at Kykuit, a Rockefeller family estate in Sleepy Hollow, New York. The Partnership for Public Service, a Washington-based nonprofit hosted the group, with through its Centre for Presidential Transition.

In late July, Mr McDonough called the Republican and Democratic nominees' campaigns to inform them of available resources, including access to intelligence briefings and office space provided by the General Services Administration (GSA). Mr Trump in May named New Jersey Governor Chris Christieto lead his transition planning.

Mrs Clinton leads Mr Trump by an average of 6.8 percentage points in national polls, RealClearPolitics said on Tuesday.

Mr Obama in 2010 signed a measure into law to help formalise the transition process, encouraging but not requiring campaigns to begin planning for a future administration before Election Day. The law empowers the GSA to offer office space and other resources including early security clearances beginning after the parties' conventions to the Democratic and Republican nominees and to any other candidate who reaches qualifications similar to those for presidential debates.

Salaries and other expenses for transition workers are paid by their respective campaigns. Transition teams can also raise money, with contributions from individuals and groups capped at US$5,000 (S$6,680) each. Mr Obama chose not to accept money from corporations or registered lobbyists.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its fundraising plans.