Substack: Who is Running America? 565 Staffers At The White House Cost Taxpayers $61 Million 34_WH_payroll

July 2, 2024 05:45 PM



By Adam Andrzejewski, OpenTheBooks CEO/Founder | Published at OpenTheBooks Substack

The White House payroll reaches historic highs not seen since President Richard Nixon in 1971.



During President Joe Biden’s four years, he spent $225 million on the largest White House payroll since at least 1971, based on headcount. White House staff for FY2024 cost $60.8 million.


Biden has a total turnover since his first year of 77-percent. A stunning 435 out of his initial 560 White House staffers left.


No White House since the Richard Nixon administration ever employed 500 staffers until Biden became president. The Biden White House employed 560 in FY2021; 474 in FY2022; 524 in FY2023; and the headcount increased by 41, to 565 this year. 


Biden employs 152 more staffers than Trump (413) (FY2020) and 97 more than Obama (468) (FY2012) at the same point in their respective presidencies. 


Between 2023 and 2024, 225 people left, a 43 percent turnover rate, only slightly lower than the 46 percent turnover rate between 2022 and 2023. 


Jill Biden’s staff increased by four employees, to 24 this year. Dr. Biden’s staff now equals Michelle Obama’s staff (FY2009) – a headcount that was controversial – and far exceeds Melania Trump staff of 11 (FY2020).






Today, the Biden administration released its annual report to Congress on the White House Office Personnel. The payroll data includes employee name, status, salary, and position title for all White House employees as of July 1, 2024.  


Search all White House payrolls from 2009 through 2024 including Obama, Trump, and Biden administration payrolls posted at 


The large Biden White House payroll had been a leading indicator of his commitment to expand the federal bureaucracy at all levels.


During Biden’s first three years, more than 40,000 bureaucrats were added to the federal payroll across the 123 executive agencies, outside of the Department of Defense, U.S. Post Office, and intelligence services.


In the first nine days of his presidency, Biden issued many executive orders expanding the size, scope, and power of the federal bureaucracy.





The most highly compensated White House Biden staffer?  

The top paid is Michelle Barrans ($251,258), Associate Counsel, and is “on detail” from the Security and Exchange Commission. The second most highly paid is Farah Ahmad ($191,900), Special Advisor for Economic Development, and is “on detail” as the previous Under Secretary for Rural Development at the Ag Department. 


The two top-paid employees from last year are not with the administration any longer: Demetre C. Daskalakis ($260,718), Deputy Coordinator for the Monkeypox Response — and Anand H. Das ($216,414), Senior Deputy Associate Counsel.  


The Czars

Biden doesn’t call his issue advisors “czars.” However, he employs 106 “special assistants to the president” on policies ranging from "gun violence prevention” to “gender policy” and “global gender policy” to four different “climate policy” assistants. Last year he employed 115 special assistants.


Special assistant salaries range from $121,500 (52 staffers) to $139,500 (54 staffers). Collectively they make $13.9 million.


One of the top paid, is Andrea M O’Neal, a Senior Policy Advisor, making $191,900 per year. Her online bio says that she’s currently serving as the Senior Policy Advisor for Racial and Economic Justice at the White House Domestic Policy Council. She has also served as the first-ever Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Equity at the U.S. General Services Administration. 


Furthermore, O’Neal has served as a research advisory committee member for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Equitable Futures Project, Brown University President’s Leadership Council, and Ambassadors Program for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC).



Here are some important facts we learned from the payroll release today.


Like most presidents, Joe Biden doesn’t donate his $400,000 salary. Donald Trump was the first since John F. Kennedy to donate his pre-tax quarterly salary to government agencies. 

Men Out Earn The Women

On average, the people with men’s names out earn the people with women’s names: there are 343 women of the 565 White House staffers. Collectively, the women take home $34.7 million in salaries, with an average salary of $101,511. Men make up 222 of the staffers, collecting $25.6 million in salaries, with an average salary of $115,719.


Comparing the First Lady’s payrolls


Former First Lady Michelle Obama was heavily criticized for her 24-member staff in 2009.


We identified 24 staffers working for Jill Biden this year, up from just eight in FY2022. The total cost of First Lady staffers was $2.5 million.


Jill Biden’s staff included a foreign policy advisor, multiple policy directors, a couple speechwriters, press secretary, communications and trip directors, schedulers, women’s health and cancer advisors, and other "helpers."


Anthony Bernal, Senior Adviser to the First Lady, was the second-highest paid in the First Lady’s Office ($180,000). Dubbed Jill Biden’s “work husband” by The New York Post, allegedly, he’s been accused by colleagues of making inappropriate sexual comments in the workplace.


In contrast, Melania Trump’s staff fluctuated between five and 12 throughout her husband’s term.  


Top Advisors


Remember Trump’s fourth year? Top advisors included Lawrence Kudlow (Economic Advisor), Steve Miller (Policy Advisor), Kellyanne Conway (Senior Counselor), and Hope Hicks (Counselor) and Peter Navarro (Assistant For Trade And Manufacturing).


Biden turned over 73-percent of his senior advisors from his first year (2021) – only eight remain of an initial 30. These eight started at $180,000 salary in 2021 and have kept the same salary into 2024.

Here are a few of the most loyal Biden advisors: 


AnnMarie Tomasini, Assistant To The President And Deputy Chief Of Staff 
Tomasini has been a long-time Biden aide, working for him in the Senate in the early 2000s and then later in his Vice Presidential office. After a stint at Harvard, she returned to work the Biden 2020 campaign.  

Neera Tanden, Assistant To The President And Domestic Policy Advisor 

Previously Tanden worked at the left-wing Center for American Progress, rising to the rank of president. Biden nominated her for director of Office of Management and Budget (OMB), but she withdrew her candidacy after a series of vitriolic, highly partisan tweets against Republican and Democratic senators were revealed. Senators determined she was too political to confirm. She previously worked for the Obama and Clinton Administrations as well.  


Jake Sullivan, Assistant To The President For National Security Affairs 
The previous Director of Policy under Obama and was a key negotiator for the Iran deal. He also worked as Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary Hillary Clinton at the State Department and under then Vice President Biden as national security adviser. 


Controversially, Sullivan served with Hunter Biden on the board of foreign policy think tank, the Truman National Security Project, between 2017 and 2019. Hunter also served on Ukrainian energy company Burisma's board at that time.  


Liz Sherwood-Randal, Assistant To The President And Homeland Security Advisor And Deputy National Security Advisor 
A recent profile in PEOPLE called her “The Most Powerful Woman You’ve Never Seen.” The article describes her work has highly confidential, but she is broadly tasked with “keeping Americans safe.” Previously worked as defense policy advisor to Senator Biden in 1988-87. She also worked in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, along with various think tanks. 


Steve Ricchetti, Assistant and Counselor to the President
Chairman for Biden 2020 campaign, previously worked as Chief of Staff to Biden under Obama, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations under Clinton. According to the New York Post, his brother Jeff Ricchetti is a lobbyist who made $8.3 million between the first quarter of 2021 and the third quarter of 2023, compared to the same period of the Trump administration, where his company made $2.2 million.  



Biden declared the pandemic to be “over” on September 19, 2022. The official federal public health emergency declaration ended on May 11, 2023.  


Yet the White House still hosts seven staffers with a title that includes “Pandemic Response” costing taxpayers $723,500. Their salaries range from $56,000 to $139,500 each.



If you were expecting to review the employees of the Vice President, no luck. Veep employees are not included with the White House payroll release.  


In fact, the Office of Vice President makes the claim that they are exempt from releasing any information regarding their payroll. 

We disagree. It will take a lawsuit to settle the question: Is the Office of Vice President subject to the Freedom of Information Act? 


Read our oversight report covering all aspects of the issue or watch our video summary here



Although the White House personnel budget is an infinitesimal part of the $6.442 trillion federal budget in FY2024, it is an important forecasting indicator showing Biden’s commitment to expand the size, scope, and power of the federal government.


Note: All inflation adjusted numbers cited use the US Bureau of Labor Statistics trailing 12-month inflation through May 2024 (3.3%). 



Back to news
Sign the Petition