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What Michelle Obama's Staffers Earn

5 years ago
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The Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, on the shores of Lake Michigan, north of Chicago, brings together local politicians, floats -- I loved the klezmer band on the back of a flatbed truck -- and marchers from different government agencies. (My favorite, the "Yes, you can afford to live here" banner carried by fellows from the upscale suburb's community land trust office.)

I ran into Herbie, who I've known since kindergarten, and we chatted about our upcoming Von Steuben High School reunion (I'm on the committee, of course). Then I caught up with my cousins' cousin, whom I spot lined up on the parade route.

This "small world" kind of a morning continued when I fell into conversation with a woman who must have seen my column in the Chicago Sun-Times about a just-released list of White House salaries, and she started talking about how her friend Joey is doing.

Joey, she said, is seriously underpaid.

Joey is Joseph Reinstein, a former Highland Park resident who left his job as a marketing executive to join the Obama White House as a Deputy Social Secretary.

His boss is Desiree Rogers, the White House social secretary. Reinstein met Rogers when she was running the Illinois Lottery in 1992. Reinstein was in advertising then, and the lottery was one of the accounts for his agency; Rogers recruited Reinstein to be a deputy director in her office. His salary is $65,000 a year.

My sister finds it distasteful that the salaries of White House staffers are made public; then everyone compares them, and just how productive can that be? But Congress ordered the annual disclosure, and since 1995 the White House has been required to report to Congress details of most of the West Wing payroll.

The president makes $400,000, and there is a big gap between that and the highest paid staffer -- $172,200.

The salaries for staffers in the Office of First Lady are also on the newest list. The highest paid is Chief of Staff Susan Sher, who gets the top $172,200. Here are the rest:

$140,000
Frye, Jocelyn C. (DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND PROJECTS FOR THE FIRST LADY)

$113,000
Rogers, Desiree G. (SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND WHITE HOUSE SOCIAL SECRETARY)

$102,000
Johnston, Camille Y. (SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR THE FIRST LADY)
Winter, Melissa E. (SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE FIRST LADY)

$90,000
Medina, David S. (DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE FIRST LADY)

$84,000
Lelyveld, Catherine M. (DIRECTOR AND PRESS SECRETARY TO THE FIRST LADY)

$75,000
Starkey, Frances M. (DIRECTOR OF SCHEDULING AND ADVANCE FOR THE FIRST LADY)

$70,000
Sanders, Trooper (DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND PROJECTS FOR THE FIRST LADY)

$65,000
Burnough, Erinn J. (DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY SOCIAL SECRETARY)
Reinstein, Joseph B. (DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY SOCIAL SECRETARY)

$62,000
Goodman, Jennifer R. (DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF SCHEDULING AND EVENTS COORDINATOR FOR THE FIRST LADY)

$60,000
Fitts, Alan O. (DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF ADVANCE AND TRIP DIRECTOR FOR THE FIRST LADY)
Lewis, Dana M. (SPECIAL ASSISTANT AND PERSONAL AIDE TO THE FIRST LADY)

$52,500
Mustaphi, Semonti M. (ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY TO THE FIRST LADY)

$50,000
Jarvis, Kristen E. (SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR SCHEDULING AND TRAVELING AIDE TO THE FIRST LADY)

$45,000
Lechtenberg, Tyler A. (ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF CORRESPONDENCE FOR THE FIRST LADY)
Tubman, Samantha (DEPUTY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR,SOCIAL OFFICE)

$40,000
Boswell, Joseph J. (EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO THE CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE FIRST LADY)

$36,000
Armbruster, Sally M. (STAFF ASSISTANT TO THE SOCIAL SECRETARY)
Bookey, Natalie (STAFF ASSISTANT)
Jackson, Deilia A. (DEPUTY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF CORRESPONDENCE FOR THE FIRST LADY)

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