Trump Nominates Presidential Campaign COO to be NASA CFO

President Donald Trump signs an executive order reviving the National Space Council. (Credit: The White House)

President Donald Trump has nominated Jeffrey DeWit, who was CFO and COO of his presidential campaign, for the position of NASA CFO. The position requires Senate confirmation.

DeWit currently serves as state treasurer of Arizona and chairman of the Arizona State Board of Investments. He was elected to a four-year term as state treasurer in 2014, and he said he did not plan to run for reelection next year.

In January 2016, Trump named him campaign chairman for Arizona. At the end of July, DeWit became COO of the national campaign.

The Trump campaign said DeWit would “focus on the operational aspects of the campaign including budgetary and logistical matters. He will create operational efficiencies as the campaign moves into the general election phase.”

Critics in Arizona questioned how DeWit would be able to serve as state treasurer and COO of the Trump campaign at the same time. DeWit refused to resign or take a leave of absence from his state job, saying the campaign position would be a part-time, volunteer gig.

“This (campaign job) is something I’m doing in my free time so truly the only part of my life that will suffer is my time with the family for the next three months,” he said at the time.

Here’s the rest of DeWit’s biography from the White House announcement of his nomination.

Prior to assuming office in January 2015, he was CEO of ECHOtrade, a firm he started in 1999 and grew to more than 500 licensed professional traders worldwide. Previously he was a market maker on the exchange floor in financial futures contracts as a full member of the Chicago Board of Trade and the CME in Chicago.  Treasurer DeWit began his nearly 25-year finance career at Smith Barney in 1992. In 2016 he served as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the Donald J Trump for President campaign. He has an MBA from the University of Arizona and a BS in Business Administration with concentrations in Finance and Marketing from the University of Southern California (USC). He is also a National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Board Leadership Fellow. He is married to Marina and has three daughters, Delaney, Katie, and Jamie.

  • ThomasLMatula

    It will be interesting to see NASA explaining to him why it spends so much on the ISS each year with so few results. It will also be interesting to see them try to justify spending on the SLS/Orion to him. This is a good sign that there are changes in the future for NASA.

  • Douglas Messier

    I don’t read it that way at all. This appears to be political payback for a job done during the campaign. DeWit understands finance and appears to know nothing about NASA. Compare his experience to the bio of the last guy to hold the position: https://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/Radzanowski_bio.html

    And he seems to be a politician on his way up. Elected to office in Arizona and pledges to serve for one term. Before he joined the campaign, he was considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2018. But, he then joined the national campaign while keeping existing job (seriously, CFO/COO of a national campaign is a part-time gig you do in your free time? WHAT?). Then parlay that into a high position in Washington where you can build up contacts and experience while looking for your next gig. Maybe running a federal agency when Trump fires someone else.

    I don’t think the NASA CFO’s position is to make policy. That’s done by the White House, OMB and National Space Council. It would be nice to have someone in the job who isn’t a politician, understood NASA and wanted to be the agency’s CFO. That doesn’t mean he won’t do a good job, but this is probably just another step up the political ladder.

  • Michael Halpern

    Worse is that as DeWit is a political from Alabama, he has a conflict of interest between New and Old Space, but with the Russia investigation still going regardless, is it really a good idea to give someone involved in the campaign a major responsibility like that? (That’s as non politically as I could phrase it)

  • ThomasLMatula

    He is from Arizona…

  • ThomasLMatula

    The key fact he is not from the Swamp, where CFO’s are used to signing off on $500 hammers, and it is indeed an advantage. Most financial folks I know who come from private industry to government aerospace are shocked at how money is wasted. I expect that will be the result when he starts work at NASA, and his connections with President Trump means he will hear of the waste.

    As for a reward, he was the leading candidate to replace Senator Flake in Arizona. That is a much better reward then quitting the job as state treasurer to work at a government agency and have to live in Washington D.C. instead of out west.

    And as for making policy. If you really want good policy you need to bring in finance as everything revolves around money. Finance knows what the firm is and is not able to do, in short the limits of “policy”. If XCOR had a good CFO they would still be in business because they would have forced them to start earning money on some of their IP instead of just generating new toys to fly.

  • Michael Halpern

    Oops

  • Tom Billings

    People tend to trust people like themselves. So why is anyone surprised that an ex-businessman trusts another businessman to try to make some order out of NASA’s finances? Granted, given the horror stories this fellow will find, it might drive him out of politics entirely.

  • DJN

    Well said!

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    If he follows the trajectory of American business he’ll ship NASA centers to China then contract out to them for space operations. That’ll get that pesky government office into shape. Oh, yeah, and he’ll cash out on the employee pension fund and use the money as collateral for several rounds of high interest loans used to fund his bonus checks in exchange for his superior leadership.

    While I agree there is much wrong with the way of American government, much of America’s business practice in the private sector is far far worse.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The process that generates a $500 hammer is set by Congress and the administrator can’t put an end to that. Not to mention sometimes you need a $500 hammer. What you really need to lower the costs of space operations is to accept risk, and not spend so much time and thus money trying to retire it. I wonder how much of an appetite he’ll have for that. A good businessperson would simply close down NASA as it makes no business sense in the time frame of most businesses today. The last administrator willing to accept risk in the name of kickstarting operations was Golden and a lot of people have a low opinion of his era. But he did take a ossified agency and made it fly.

  • ThomasLMatula

    You just pointed out why it’s important to have someone who is not part of the Swamp running the finances at NASA. Someone who will just say, “that’s how it’s is” and not see anything wrong with it.

  • Tom Billings

    ” …much of America’s business practice in the private sector is far far worse.”

    That all depends on what your objectives are. Businesses of below 100 employees are still the employers of the majority of workers here, last I looked. It is government that has been driving them either out of the country, or out of the market by greater regulation. If the comments here are going to hold nothing but anti-business slander, then why should the rest of us sit in on the class bigot coffee klatsch? In fact the cuts to regulation that this administration is doing in its “2 for 1” program have already proceeded far enough that the 2 serial entrepreneurs who I knew had stopped a few years back, because they didn’t like being unpaid government paper shufflers, are both talking about getting back into it. Granted, they’re moving to Texas to do it, but they’re headed back to making jobs again.

    Either show that something the *appointee* is doing is bad, or you’re spouting another equivalent to “never hire one ‘a them niggers, because 1 in 4 of them will end up in jail”, except using occupational class rather than race as an excuse. Frankly, I seriously doubt anyone will be *allowed* to clean up NASA’s books, because Congress likes it the way it is, obscure to the point of opaque, …the better to hide what those at the top of the funding hierarchy are doing for their own leverage in votes. The DC progressives won’t believe that can be stopped, and won’t like it if it *is* stopped.

  • Paul451

    The key fact he is not from the Swamp

    Doug was explicitly pointing out that he is on that corporate/politician/appointee/campaigner roundabout. In other words, a classic Swamp creature.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Is it the US government driving them out, or perhaps the Chinese communist party who lures them in with venture capital, unorganized impoverished labor, subsidized machine tools, cheap subsidized energy, free bricks and mortar, and the ability to take land away from those horrible slobs who happen to be squatting on prime commercial property. It can’t be the high taxes here because while the US has a high tax rate you and I know that those are deduced to almost nothing, and in a lot of cases nothing. You know, I think American business is attracted to Chinese communism because it guarantees high profits be offering cheap labor for products to be sold to rich Americans. I think THAT’s what draws them overseas. And since your tax policy is going to go through, when all thats done with it spending on stock buybacks and dividends, I’ll call you on it the next time you put theory in the blatent face of experimental output from the lab of history. And of course, I’d expect you to do the same.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Here’s my bias coming through because I saw what happened to Trump and his enterprise in the 80’s and 90’s. Anyone who would work on his campaign is part of the other swamp. Business executives are not some high priest of librarian fair play, given his associations with Trump, this guy is probably a crook of the private kind, born in the swamp of the private sector. He will probably wreck a lot of things in NASA and build nothing. And I think that reflects the flawed judgment of a lot of libertarians. They confuse destruction with construction. They’re capital consumers and when they’re out, they go into debt to get more. My estimation is this guy will wreck programs and replace them with nothing. And I’ll also bet you’ll love it, and not understand what is lost.

  • Tom Billings

    Actually, Andrew, the worst price is *not* in businesses moving to China. The worst price is in those who simply drop out of the market like my 2 friends. You understand?

    They just stop. The people who put their lives into making industry happen, …just, …stop.

    You’ve not been interested in talking about Jeffery DeWit, have you? You just wanted to denounce businessmen.

    BTW, the tax policy going through is *not* what I would want. It’s better than what we would have gotten under Trump’s last opponent, but it’s a long way from what I want.

    As to China, businesses *are* moving back to the US, but not to States where regulations are highest, and not with all the old union jobs in place. Their new factories are instead automated to the max, and that maximum is growing. You see the cost of regulation *can* be bested by the agency costs of an even more corrupt hierarchies developing their positions in China. Chicago has been beaten in something, … yet again.

    I shall leave you to your denunciations. I have better things to do.

  • ThomasLMatula

    You mean like NASA outsourcing it’s HSF to the Russians 🙂

  • ThomasLMatula

    If it opens up a lot of opportunities for private firms by getting NASA out of the way I probably will.

    If President Reagan had not banned NASA from launching commercial payloads at a below market rate you wouldn’t have today’s commercial launch industry.

  • Douglas Messier

    A CFO who understood NASA and how the govt works is extremely valuable. NASA received clean audits during his tenure.

    Trump isn’t cleaning the swamp he’s merely filling it with his family and friends. It’s amazing people buy into that rhetoric it’s so divorced from reality of who and what Trump is.

  • ThomasLMatula

    I have been to DC a number of times, it’s expensive, polluted and crowded. The folks that live there are so power hungry they over look it, or are powerful enough to have chauffeurs who drive them around to avoid the worst of it.

    I also traveled to LA over the holiday and was shocked at how bad the constant anti-Trump rhetoric was on every media outlet so as someone who teaches how politic attitudes are formed I understand why you feel the way you do. But if you go to the same media outlets pre-2012 you will think you will think you are reading about a completely different Trump.

    But knowing space policy folks that have actually met with him and the VP I know he is interested in fixing space and appointing a CFO he trusts at NASA appears to be part of that strategy.

    Think about it. NASA is not a place you appoint someone to as a reward. There are much better positions, more prestisge ones, for someone with a finance background, in Treasury or with the State Department. The last CFO probably got the job because no one else wanted, just as General Bolden was appointed Administrator because no one else wanted. That fact that both left the same day as President Trump was inaugurated speaks volumes on the commitment to politics and not NASA.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    And your answer just confirms what I said. So I’ll ask you to research this. In order to create that ‘commercial’ launch industry was it simply an act of destruction of offices within NASA and then “POOF” from nothing a commercial launch industry was born in the US? What you’ll see is massive re-investment of government dollars into new bureaucracy to coddle and artificially support the re-birth and the further development of Delta Atlas and Titan. Delta performed ‘commercially’ to some degree against Ariane and then there was the USAF effort with EELV. None of those were born off the ‘street’ in an organic fashion. They were coddled by many sets of new bureaucracy created after the Commercial Space Act of 1986. This is what I mean by the glib attitude Republicans/Libertarians have when it comes to conflating destruction with construction, and you’re an economics professor, you should know better by this point of your education/life experience. To this day only Blue Origin has functioned independent of government largess, and had the government not coddled the market for the past 30 years I doubt they would decide to become players.

  • ThomasLMatula

    They needed to “coddle” the market because they prevented it from emerging in the first place by undermining it with NASA providing marginal cost pricing of launching for commercial payloads for 25 years.

    And yes, as an economic professor I do know how markets emerge and space is an anomaly because the government got there first and in doing so suppressed the emergence of private efforts. If you know anything about how complexity economics works you would know starting conditions are critical in shaping markets. Just compare government involvement in mainframe computers to the government’s lack of involvement in PC’s to see the difference.

  • Douglas Messier

    Political appointees requiring Senate confirmation routinely leave at the end of a presidential term unless they have been asked to stay on by the incoming administration. So, that’s neither here nor there.

    The DC area is a fine place to live. It has everything you want in a large metro area. Entertainment, culture, close to the mountains. I lived for about a decade in Arlington.

    My guess is DeWit is pretty power hungry, the opportunity presented itself with NASA, get to work with Pence as head of National Space Council while looking for his next gig.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    There’s a distinct difference between developing systems that crash and remain on floor and have state machines that dump memory, and CPU registers into a core file for later analysis, vs a system that can carry as much latent energy of a bombing raid on WWII Dresden. When those systems crash there’s not much to go over. I’d love to hear how the private sector was ready and able to shoulder the cost and effort needed to develop space launch. But that’s a discussion for another day. The market is not a universal tool.

  • ThomasLMatula

    That does not fit with the statements he made.

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona/2017/11/29/arizona-treasurer-jeff-dewit-nominated-trump-nasa-post/606896001/

    “Since the conclusion of last year’s presidential election, there has been much speculation as to what my future was going to be, and my response has been and remains that I truly love Arizona and my current role as state treasurer,” DeWit said in a statement. “However, when the president of the United States asks you to serve your country, it is my duty to answer the call.”

    Also, last I looked, a Senator had much more power than the NASA CFO. But time will tell if you are right or wrong on your speculations.

  • ThomasLMatula
  • Douglas Messier

    DeWit also claimed he was CFO and COO of Trump’s campaign in his spare time while devoting full-time attention to his Arizona gig. The quote you cite is what pols always say. I don’t know why he didn’t run for Senate, there may have been factors that made him think he couldn’t win.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Oh I read that years ago. I also watched a lot of those programs play out live. It in no way shows that the market was robust enough to solve the problems of spaceflight independent of of government help and funding. The most robust private program back then was Bob Truax’s efforts and his best efforts were based on buying old Thor launch vehicles and selling rides on those or derivative systems. Without the need to lob nuclear weapons and the legal rights of overflight from orbit for military recon, spaceflight would not have been developed in the 20th cen. Most of those efforts from the 70’s and 80’s were jokes on par with Rotary Rocket. Look at what a lot of the efforts from the 90’s did, TGV, UP-Aerospace, Virgin, Rocketplane, they all ran to the state for funds, and still could not pull it off.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Sorry for hitting this again, but I can’t resist. Hope it’s okay. Have you ever seen Fritz Lang’s “Frau Im Mond”?? It’s a striking 96 year old movie. Fascinatingly it shows private individuals pulling off Apollo 8 and Apollo 15. But the economic rationale by the “Charles Pooley” character of the movie is to go out and find gold on the Moon. I find it striking that 96 years later when you exclude communications and mil-space that’s where we still are. This movie is a gem at many levels. One of those levels, I think, is showing how the malfunctions of the private sector would never have allowed the development of spaceflight in a wild market place.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Charles Pooley had some interesting ideas. Pity he is no longer here, it was always interesting to talk to him.

    There are better business models but no one is going to post them online. Instead they will wait for access to improve the economics and then implement them. Also the FAA CST only has the authority to license launch and landing, not activities on another Celestial Body. That throws a monkey wrench into it and needs fixing by Congress.

    It often seems the path taken is the only one, but there are always alternatives. But it’s always speculation how they would work.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Alt space was fun. And it helped get us where we are, which is a much better place than we were 20 years ago. Outside of reality, yes we’re prisoners of speculation indeed.