An Investigation: Which Presidential Campaigns Have the Largest Gender Wage Disparities?

A Jezebel analysis of campaign finance data has found that of the six active presidential campaigns, four have significant gender wage disparities. Most notably, Ted Cruz’s campaign on average pays male staffers $20,000 more than female staffers, and of the ten highest paid staffers on Bernie Sanders’ campaign, not a single one is a woman.

At the end of January, Elizabeth May Davidson, a 26-year-old Iowa field organizer for Donald Trump, filed a discrimination complaint against the campaign for a workplace that was hostile to women: she alleged the campaign regularly paid men more than women for the same jobs, allowed men to take on a more significant role in producing rallies, and that the first time she met Trump, he made a comment about her appearance.


Unless an employee files an official workplace complaint like Davidson did, these campaigns are largely opaque, closed shops. The one thing we do have access to, however, is information about pay.

We looked at year-end finance reports for each campaign to attempt to gauge how close each staff was to gender parity: Do presidential campaigns employ a comparable number of women to men? Do they pay female employees equitably? Are an equal number of women given leadership roles and salaries to match?

The Federal Election Commission year-end reports only cover fourth quarter expenditures (October to December 2015), and do so in an imperfect way. First of all, the data exclude staffers paid as campaign consultants (these consultants could advise on policy or strategy, or work as pollsters or media advisors). The data also likely have some errors—in the reports we examined, a single employee’s name might be spelled differently in multiple payroll entries. Finally, there isn’t an easy way to tell who is a full-time employee versus who is an intern or a contractor who received pay for a limited project.

To control for the final variable, we included in our analysis only employees who had received at least four paychecks, and who made a minimum projected annual salary of $24,000 (which we determined by extrapolating assumed biweekly payments). This proved more limiting for Democratic candidates who included hundreds of employees on their reports, as opposed to the Republicans who generally had no more than 50 unique employees (Richard Skinner, an analyst at the Sunlight Foundation, explained this could be because Democratic campaigns often have more extensive field operations, while Republicans tend to unofficially delegate certain responsibilities to PACs). We also made our best efforts to determine how each employee identified gender-wise, which we understand is an imperfect, limiting undertaking.



  • Although Bernie Sanders’ campaign pays women on average a little under $1,000 more than men, the top ten highest-paid employees are all male.
  • The highest discrepancy we saw is in the Ted Cruz campaign, where male employees make an average of $20,000 more than female employees.
  • Marco Rubio’s campaign wins points for the campaign that pays women the best. Women on Rubio’s staff make, on average, just over $5,000 more than men, and of the 10 highest-paid staffers, six are female.
  • Hillary Clinton’s campaign is also fairly equitable, with male and female staffers making essentially the same amount of money.
  • Every campaign (excluding Clinton’s, which employs 324 women and 202 men) employs significantly more men than women.
  • The highest paid staffer is Cruz’s political director Mark Campbell, at $192,000. It is impossible to determine which staffer is paid lowest, because of our minimum salary cut off ($24,000).
  • Sixteen people on Clinton’s campaign make over $100,000. That number drops precipitously for the other campaigns: Four people on Kasich’s campaign, and three on Sanders and Cruz’s campaigns respectively, make that much. Only one Rubio staffer makes over $100,000. No one on Trump’s team earns in the six figures.

Hillary Clinton


Of Clinton’s highest-paid employees, six are male and four are female:

  1. Jennifer Palmieri, Director of Communications, $138,412.04
  2. Maura Keefe, Director of Congressional Affairs, $130,068.54
  3. Jacob Sullivan, Senior Policy Adviser, $124,001.16
  4. Michael Vlacich, NH State Director, $120,668.16
  5. Dennis Cheng, Finance Director, $119,928.16
  6. Robert Mook, Campaign Manager, $119,919.76
  7. Oren Shur, Director of Paid Media, $117,753.12
  8. Amanda Renteria, Political Director, $117,711.16
  9. Marlon Marshall, Director of State Campaigns and Political Engagement, $116,685.68
  10. Elizabeth Jones, Chief Operating Officer, $115,974.24

The campaign did not respond to request for comment.

Bernie Sanders


Of Sanders’s highest-paid employees, 10 are male and zero are female:

  1. Rich Pelletier, Field Director, $120,897.68
  2. Jeffrey Weaver, Campaign Manager, $118,745.92
  3. Michael Briggs, Communications Director, $102,640.68
  4. Richard Eskow, Writer and Editor, $87,757.60
  5. Jose Miranda, Arizona Director, $85,094.40
  6. Arturo Carmona, Latino Outreach Director, $84,911.68
  7. Marcus Ferrell, African American Outreach Director and SE Political Director, $82,895.20
  8. Warren Gunnels, Senior Policy Advisor, $82,068.28
  9. Jacob Limon, Texas State Director, $81,304.68
  10. Marc Levitt, Director of Scheduling and Advance, $79,056.08

The campaign did not respond to request for comment.

Donald Trump


Of Trump’s highest-paid employees, seven are male and three are female:

  1. Matthew Ciepielowski, NH State Director, $96,000
  2. Charles Munoz, Nevada State Director, $96,000
  3. Jennifer Locetta, Florida Deputy State Director, $66,000
  4. Keith Schiller, Director of Security, $65,561
  5. Andrew Georgevits, NH Deputy State Director, $63,000
  6. Christina (Dena) Espenscheid, Virginia Field Director, $48,000
  7. Robin Flenniken, Marketing, $48,000
  8. Mark Lloyd, Virginia Field Director and Director of Coalitions, $48,000
  9. Matthew Mau, Illinois Field Director, $48,000
  10. Robert Swope, Tennessee State Chairman, $48,000

Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski does not appear on the report.

The campaign did not respond to request for comment.

Ted Cruz


Of Cruz’s highest-paid employees, seven are male and three are female:

  1. Mark Campbell, Political Director, $192,000
  2. Eric Brown, General Counsel, $184,999.92
  3. Richard Tyler, National Spokesperson, $145,000
  4. Austen Furse, Policy Director, $96,000
  5. Brian Phillips, Director of Rapid Response, $96,000
  6. John Thompson, Digital Director, $88,269.60
  7. Catherine Frazier, National Press Secretary, $81,000
  8. Dayna Cade, National Coalitions Director, $79,999.92
  9. Jonathon McClellan, Regional Political Director (incl. IA) $79,999.92
  10. Zina Bash, Deputy Policy Director, $75,000

The campaign did not respond to request for comment.

Marco Rubio


Of Rubio’s highest-paid employees, four are male and six are female:

  1. Anna Rogers, National Finance Director, $114,018.96
  2. Alex Conant, Communications Director, 96,585.36
  3. Jessica Ennis, Political Director, $92,443.92
  4. Annie Baker, Deputy Finance Director, $79,938.24
  5. Eric Wilson, Digital Director, $65,017.92
  6. William Holley, Counsel, $64,266.48
  7. Catherine Campbell, Deputy Finance Director, $62,832.72
  8. Jahan Wilcox, Spokesperson/Rapid Response, $61,452.96
  9. Val Mack, Research Director, $60,023.28
  10. Brooke Sammon, Press Secretary $59,895.92

The campaign did not respond to request for comment.

John Kasich


Of Kasich’s highest-paid employees, nine are male and one is female.

  1. Beth Hansen, Campaign Manager, $142,837.68
  2. Steven Milburn, Communications Director, $118,786.80
  3. Christopher Whistler, Policy Director, $105,289.28
  4. Paul Collins, New Hampshire State Director, $103,591.92
  5. Chris Schrimpf, Communications Director, $98,268.60
  6. Simon Thomson, NH Campaign Manager, $97,423.44
  7. Jeff Polesovsky, Political Director, $85,029.12
  8. Tim Tripepi, Director of Advance, $77,002.56
  9. Kevin Bingle, Digital Director, $70,476.48
  10. Philip Greenberg, Finance Director, $70,476.48

In an email, a spokesperson for Kasich’s campaign responded, “Did you also find that we are the ONLY campaign, republican or democrat, that is run by a woman?” [sic’d] And linked to this profile of Hansen.

Art by Jim Cooke; Excel magic by Adam Pash; Images via Getty.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

About the author