In a Fed-Ex letter, President Donald Trump has fired all remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) without any explanation. This follows six of the council members resigning from their positions in June, citing Trump’s regressive legislation and inaction on the global HIV/AIDS crisis as the reasons in an open letter to Newsweek.
Former member of the council Scott A. Schoettes tweeted the following on Thursday afternoon:
“Remaining #HIV/AIDS council members booted by @realDonaldTrump. No respect for their service. Fangerous that #Trump and Co. (Pence esp._ are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed. #WeObject #PACHA6 #Resist”
Reached for comment by the Washington Blade, PACHA council member Gabriel Maldonado confirmed that he and the other remaining members had been fired for “unclear” reasons.
The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson reports:
“I can only speculate,” Maldonado said. “Like any administration, they want their own people there. Many of us were Obama appointees. I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018.”
Maldonado said “ideological and philosophical differences” with the administration are a potential reason for the terminations.
“I was co-chair of the disparities committee, so much of my advocacy and policy references surrounded vulnerable populations, addressing issuing of diverse communities, specifically looking at the impacts of the LGBT community, namely, the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS to people of color, gay men, transgender women,” Maldonado said. “And a lot of those key vulnerable populations are not being prioritized in this administration.”
It is not uncommon for a new president to clear a council of its members and restaff, and President Barack Obama did the same with PACHA when he took office in 2008. However, Maldonado states that Trump’s actions are erratic and inconsistent with that of previous presidents:
“It is common for appointees to be terminated and for folks to kind of want their own people in,” Maldonado said. “I think where the discrepancy comes in is why a year later, No. 1? Two, many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, and three were stayed on nearly four months after an executive order was signed continuing the council.”
Trump renewed PACHA with an executive order in September of 2017, but—Johnson notes—his “fiscal year 2018 budget proposal also sought massive cuts to HIV/AIDS programs, including $150 million on HIV/AIDS programs at the Centers of Disease Control and more than $1 billion in cuts from global programs like PEPFAR Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria. The Republican-controlled Congress has thus far continued to fund these programs at previous levels.”