Politico reporters Daniel Lippman and Tina Nguyen revealed Tuesday that Jimmy Finkelstein — the publisher of the news outlet The Hill — has arranged for his wife to have an unpaid position in the office of first lady Melania Trump. This fact, presenting a potentially troubling conflict of interest for a publisher of political news, was not disclosed to readers.
Lippman and Nguyen report that in 2017, Pamela Gross, Finkelstein’s wife and a former CNN producer, “volunteered to help the new first lady find her footing in the East Wing.” She was described as a “long-time friend of Melania Trump.”
Finkelstein, according to the Politico journalists, “was sufficiently involved that he personally discussed his wife’s arrangement with White House lawyers.”
Lippman and Nguyen report that on July 5, 2017, Finkelstein e-mailed Stefan Passantino, an ethics lawyer for the Trump White House at the time, and wrote, “Hope we can get contract soon as Pamela looks forward serving (sic) the country and the First Lady.”
“The White House never announced Gross’ hiring, though she spent around six months advising the first lady. Gross primarily worked from New York, but her arrangement had some trappings of White House employment: she filled out a security clearance questionnaire and was granted a White House e-mail and cell phone and a temporary access badge for use when she was in Washington,” the report said.
Gross’ unpaid arrangement lasted from August 2017 to February 2018. During that period, according to Lippman and Nguyen, The Hill published “several dozen articles” about Melania Trump. And only a “select few Hill employees” were “informed that their boss’ wife was an East Wing adviser.”
Interviewed by Politico, the New York City-based Finkelstein asserted that there was no conflict of interest in his wife’s work in Melania Trump’s office in 2017 and early 2018. The Hill’s publisher told Politico: “Pamela was proud to help the first lady serve our country and the nation’s children in this way. For Pamela, this was not simply a very worthwhile effort; it was deeply meaningful on a personal level. As the daughter of a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor sent to the Auschwitz death camp as a child, she felt that joining the first lady in helping children, here and around the globe, was tremendously humbling and personally rewarding.”
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