Clay Johnson III

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Clay Johnson III has served as Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget since 2003.[1] Johnson also heads the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency.[2] Prior, Johnson served as Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel and Deputy to the Chief of Staff in the first administration of President George W. Bush.[1]

Johnson is rumored to be the replacement as Director of Homeland Security for Michael Chertoff, who is, himself, rumored to be the replacement for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who resigned August 27, 2007, effective September 17, 2007.[3]

Johnson and George W. Bush share a long relationship. They were classmates at both Yale University and Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts,[4] and Johnson was one of Bush's "DKE fraternity brothers."[5]. Johnson was with Governor George W. Bush in Austin, Texas, from 1995 to 2000, "first as his Appointments Director, then as his Chief of Staff, and then as the Executive Director of the Bush-Cheney Transition.[4][6]

In May 2003, then White House spokesman Ari Fleischer "describe[d] Johnson as 'the President's best friend from his high school days and forward.'"[7]

"In Washington, Johnson is known not only for having the ear of the president, but also for speaking on the president's behalf. His booming Southern baritone has been an important instrument in the Bush administration's campaign to bring private sector management strategies to the federal government."[8]


  • Budget accountability: In June 2005, Comptroller General David M. Walker and Johnson "testified that federal spending growth looms as a major problem".[9]
  • Bush's point man on filling top government jobs.[10]
  • Johnson, also with ties to the energy industry, aided in the placement of Karl Rove, Bush's chief political strategist, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Bush's top economic coordinator, and I. Lewis Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, all who stated in their initial financial disclosure statements, that they had holdings in Enron. Additionally, Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, "had stock holdings of $250,000 to $500,000 in the Chevron Corporation and earned $60,000 as a director of the company in the last year."[11]
  • A few months after the White House got a list of recommended candidates from former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay, a friend and backer of President Bush, two of them were appointed to a federal energy commission. Lay gave the list of names to Clay Johnson, Bush's personnel director, [according to] White House spokeswoman Anne Womack.... Among the eight or so names were Pat Wood, [in 2002] chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Nora Brownell, a member of the commission."[12]
  • Chickenhawk: "While volunteering for active-duty military service was unusual in 1966, it was practically unheard of by 1968. A Bush roommate, Clay Johnson III, could think of only one close Yale acquaintance who served in Vietnam."[13]
  • Data security and breach notification policy:
  • "Having a proper breach notification system is important, but the OMB would certainly prefer that breaches not happen in the first place. To that end, Johnson suggests a policy not often heard in government or business: reduce the volume of information collected 'to the minimum necessary.'"[14]
  • Social Security number breaches.[15]
  • Oil industry ties: In June 2001, Johnson "reported holding a stake in El Paso Energy Partners valued at $100,000 to $250,000. El Paso is a Houston oil and natural gas company. As part of his White House duties, Mr. Johnson has been involved in selecting people to fill vacancies at the energy regulatory commission, which oversees the natural gas market. ... There was no indication in his disclosure statement that Mr. Johnson intended to sell his stake in El Paso."[11]
  • President's Management Agenda (PMA): Johson advised against Bush touting the PMA in his 2004 presidential campaign: "If Bush emphasizes his management agenda during the campaign, civil servants may start to question the administration's motives for pursuing the effort, Johnson said. Doubts may 'creep into [their] minds' as to whether the agenda is designed with their interests at heart."[16]
  • "Sunset Commission": Johnson is the "man behind" the commission, which could, "[in] practice, ... enable the Bush administration to achieve what Ronald Reagan only dreamed of: the end of government regulation as we know it. With a simple vote of five commissioners -- many of them likely to be lobbyists and executives from major corporations currently subject to federal oversight -- the president could terminate any program or agency he dislikes."[17]


"Johnson was CEO of the Dallas Museum of Art from 1992-94 and President of the Horchow Collection, a mail order catalogue division of Neiman Marcus, from 1983-91; he was marketing director 1981-82. Johnson has also worked for Frito-Lay and Wilson Sporting Goods."[6]

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bio: Clay Johnson III, Deputy Director for Management Office of Management and Budget,, accessed August 27, 2007.
  2. Lois Romano, "Lonely at The Top. For the President, Confidants Are Lacking," Washington Post, August 28, 2007.
  3. "CNN: Bush Plans To Install Inexperienced, Bush Loyalist Clay Johnson At Homeland Security," Think Progress, August 27, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 OMB Director's Office,, accessed August 28, 2007.
  5. Interview: Clay Johnson, PBS Frontline/The Choice 2000.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Building the New Administration. ...White House Staff 'Starting Lineup' Biographies A to Z," George Washington University, last accessed August 27, 2007.
  7. Monica Roman, "Clay Johnson: Friends in Very High Places," Businessweek, May 19, 2003.
  8. Denise Kersten, "Deputy Director for Management: Clay Johnson,", September 15, 2005.
  9. Keith Miller and Alison Acosta Fraser, "Awakening to the Need for Budget Accountability," Heritage Foundation, June 24, 2005.
  10. Calvin Woodward, "Diversity Means Many Things to Bush," Associated Press, March 29, 2000.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Joseph Kahn, "Bush Advisers on Energy Report Ties to Industry," New York Times, June 3, 2001.
  12. Marcy Gordon, "Enron Chairman Gave List of Favored Names to White House; Bush Named Two as Energy Regulators," Associated Press (Common Dreams), February 1, 2002.
  13. Michael Dobbs and Lois Romano, "For the Candidates, Vietnam Choices Linger," Washington Post, October 16, 2004.
  14. Nate Anderson, "Federal government to collect less data, safeguard it better," ars technica, May 24, 2007.
  15. Stephen Barr, "OMB Moves to Safeguard Social Security Numbers," Washington Post, May 24, 2007.
  16. Amelia Gruber, "Bush official warns against politicizing management agenda,", September 22, 2003.
  17. Osha Gray Davidson, "Bush's Most Radical Plan Yet. With a vote of hand-picked lobbyists, the president could terminate any federal agency he dislikes," Rolling Stone, April 21, 2005.

External articles

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