December 28, 2017 at 11:17 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Trump fires all members of HIV/AIDS council without explanation
Trump Pence, gay news, Washington Blade

President Trump has fired all members of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

With no explanation, the White House has terminated members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS amid widespread discontent with President Trump’s approach to the epidemic.

After six members of PACHA resigned in June, the White House on Wednesday terminated the remaining 16 members without explanation via a letter from FedEx.

Scott Schoettes, a Chicago-based HIV/AIDS activist and senior attorney for Lambda Legal, was one of the six who resigned in June over Trump’s inaction on HIV/AIDS and said on Twitter the remaining members were fired.

“No respect for their service,” Schoettes said. “Dangerous that #Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed.”

Sources with knowledge of PACHA said many council members were fired even though additional time remained on their terms as advisers. The terminated members, sources said, were given the option to reapply after Tuesday.

Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of the Riverside, Calif.,-based LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution, was a remaining member of PACHA and confirmed they were fired, but said the “explanation is still unclear.”

“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.

As an example, Maldonado cited a recent Washington Post report the Centers for Disease Control is banned from using words like “diversity” and “transgender” in budget documents. The CDC director has denied those words are banned.

“I was co-chair of the disparities committee, so much of my advocacy and policy references surrounded vulnerable populations, addressing issues 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.”

Maldonado added he intends to publish an open letter to the community about his termination on Friday.

Also among the terminated members was Patrick Sullivan, a professor of epidemiology at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health.

“My reaction is that our focus should be on the policies that PACHA addresses,” Sullivan said. “These issues are critical to people’s health, and are critical to making new HIV infections rare. At PACHA’s last meeting in August, the Council urged the Administration to affirm the National HIV/AIDS Strategy through 2020. Doing this would be a great way for the administration to set the tone and lay out national roadmap of priorities for a new PACHA.”

Created in 1995, PACHA has provided advice starting in the Clinton administration and into the George W. Bush and Obama administrations on policy and research to promote effective treatment and prevention for HIV — maintaining the goal of finding a cure.

In September, Trump signed an executive order that renewed PACHA along with 31 other presidential bodies for an additional year.

Trump’s termination of council members isn’t the first time an administration cleaned house on PACHA. The Obama administration eliminated all of George W. Bush’s appointees before making new appointments.

Kaye Hayes, executive director of PACHA, affirmed the council members were terminated on Wednesday, but said there’s more to the story.

“They were also thanked for their leadership, dedication and commitment to the effort,” Hayes said. “Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during Administration changes. The Obama administration dismissed the George W. Bush administration appointees to PACHA in order to bring in new voices. All PACHA members are eligible to apply to serve on the new council that will be convened in 2018.”

Jim Driscoll, a gay Nevada-based HIV/AIDS activist who supported Trump in 2016, said replacement of PACHA members “is standard practice” for a new administration.

“Now they need to find bonafide community people with appropriate expertise and the ability to adapt to the changed political circumstances,” Driscoll said. “It is fully understandable why a president would not want people who oppose his policies and might be happy to see him impeached serving as his HIV advisors. That would serve the needs of neither the president nor of people living with HIV-AIDS.”

But Maldonado said the termination of PACHA members during the Trump administration is only partially consistent with the Obama years.

“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.”

In June, six members of PACHA resigned their posts in protest over what they called inaction from Trump on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. An estimated 1.2 million people have HIV/AIDS in the United States and 37 million have the disease worldwide.

Chief among the reasons was the absence of leadership at the White House on HIV/AIDS. To date, the White House has yet to appoint a director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, which was one of the reasons the six members of PACHA resigned in June.

Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal also sought massive cuts to HIV/AIDS programs, including $150 million on HIV/AIDS programs at the Centers for Disease Control and more than $1 billion in cuts from global programs like the PEPFAR Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria. The Republican-controlled Congress has thus far continued to fund these programs at previous levels.

Maldonado noted the PACHA terminations are taking place at the year’s end after the June resignations, which he said is “a little too coincidental.”

“The timing is a little bit unorthodox compared to what the Obama administration’s approach was,” Maldonado said.

Maldonado said he represented a younger demographic on PACHA as the only member under the age of 30, which he said is where the majority of new HIV infections are occurring, and as a young, black gay man.

“I just am coming to the acknowledgment that the traditional tactics of politicking and policy and strategy and negotiation, the kind of standard tools that we’re trying to use, that the status quo is no longer acceptable,” Maldonado said. “The tactics that we had are kind of obsolete, and now we need to craft new strategy to address the troubling and unsettling revelations, particularly around the silence and inaction that have taken place around HIV and AIDS.”

Since the resignations in June, Trump has made public statements on HIV/AIDS consisting of proclamations on National HIV Testing Day and World AIDS Day. Neither statement included an explicit mention of LGBT people, who have faced the brunt of the disease.

The White House deferred comment to the Department of Health & Human Services, which provided the statement from the PACHA executive director.

New appointments may be coming soon. The Blade reported in October gay Republicans familiar with HIV/AIDS issues and LGBT issues have been among those contacted by a Trump administration official for possible appointments to PACHA.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

102 Comments
  • I don’t find any notice or news article about Obama summarily firing the entire membership of PACHA with no explanation, no notice, no new appointees announced. When a journalist makes a statement that Trump’s actions have precedent, the journalist is obligated to explain how and why, as far as I’m concerned.

    • “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.”

    • `You can’t expect an agenda driven “journalist” like Chris to be fair to President Trump.

      • Trump is fair to no one but his special interest! If you don’t like what you read no one obligates you to troll here! Stick to your right-wing news sites that regurgitate the lies and BS your fake potus peddles!

      • It’s “rules for thee but not for me” with this bunch.

        • Everyone is entitled to an opinion however the Washington Blade should change its masthead to America’s LGBT Opinion Source. It’s way past time the B and T were dropped as well.

          • How about dropping you instead since you do nothing for the community! The N for NAMLBA was dropped decades ago so why do you hang on?

            Further everything you say is opinion so who are you to whine? You hate the blade’s NEWS yet are glued to it and keep returning! What a joke you are!

    • “Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of the Riverside, Calif.,-based LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution, was a remaining member of PACHA and confirmed they were fired.”
      That’s the named source. Another un-named source was quoted. This is in addition to the tweet by Scott Schoettes. Chris Johnson also approached the White House for comment, but so far has not received any.

      Did you read this article?

      • I don’t know what you’re talking about (nor do you, it appears). Maldonado confirmed the firing of HIS OWN group, today, by Trump.

        I was looking for notice that OBAMA did anything similar or in a similar fashion, or with similar timing, and found nothing.

  • It makes no sense to swear members back in upon expiration of their terms if you are cleaning house for patronage sake. This is likely more an attempt to gut the council’s effectiveness, and is entirely consistent with the Trump administration’s effort to dismantle government. In my opinion, this is further verification that Putin’s interest in our elections is entirely hostile, and Trump a malignancy on our nation.

    • These people have different ideology from Trump administration. Can you explain what goals these people want to achieve other than collecting paychecks from taxpayers?

      If they have any decency, these Obama leftovers should have resigned long time ago.

      • people don’t work for nothing! Most people need a paycheck! Meanwhile you have trump cronies wasting tax payer funds to take lavish plane trips they can pay for themselves yet you don’t want them fired because they push your agenda!

      • That is not how government agencies work. Let’s discuss now the People’s business as it takes precedent above all else. That means it comes before an officials party affiliation, their campaign funders, their own careerism or well being. It is the proverbial elephant in the room. There are a number of laws that specifically forbid government agency personnel from front running their own interests ahead of the People’s. Similarly, unless you are entirely self employed, your ability to front your own interests ahead of your bosses is curtailed or soon will be. We are not all entirely free agents in our dealings. Sometimes you are the agent for other interests and you have to serve them with fidelity. It is undermining for any organization with ongoing work to experience a sea change sweeping everyone out with each election. The effectiveness of organizations that serve the People’s interest is considered paramount to what an election outcome may be. Real world stuff still needs to get done in an orderly way —

        • The “people’s business” sounds like something out of Pravda.

          Let people take care of their OWN business. Fighting a wholly preventable disease that a tiny minority of people refuse to take responsibility for should not fall on the shoulders of “the people.”

      • I can absolutely explain what goals they have. They want to reduce the spread of HIV and the development of AIDS through education and proven interventions such as condoms and needle exchange programs. These programs save lives, period. They want to expand pre-exposure prophylaxis and get people treated so that they don’t develop AIDS and we treat their infection through once-a-day pills rather than expensive hospital stays. It’s really not that complicated.

      • PACHA members are not paid–a fact you could have easily looked up. https://files.hiv.gov/s3fs-public/pacha-charter.pdf

        PACHA members receive travel allowances and per diem which are strictly controlled by the General Services Administration–but this is standard for ALL Federal Advisory Committees. That is not “collecting paychecks from taxpayers” or “stealing taxpayers’ money.” Federal Advisory Committee Members donate their time and expertise to help guide government policy in many critically important areas. You really should get your facts straight before you go mouthing off in public….

    • Obama removing the HIV travel ban let in drug resistant AIDS from Africa last year. Hopefully Trump fills the positions with people who want less AIDS in the US. Maybe he will even get a Murse that says that, and will rattle the cages of those who jack up HIV drug prices from $13 a pill to over $700 a pill.

      • We have a global pandemic because of the failures of the GOP. Reagan and social conservatives to act and show compassion during the onset of the disease because it was labeled a gay disease! Stop trying to distort history with revisionist lies to push your agenda!

        Worry instead about the size of your waistline and butt and maybe you won’t be “big”!

        • Why should any government be responsible for one’s behavior?

          • A friend of mine recently built a house for himself. Because he is a homebuilder, it is a rather nice house. His neighbor where he bought the land decided soon after the home was completed to redo their landscaping. The neighbor not only created big swales and berms that served to direct runoff directly towards my friend’s foundation, but he also failed to pull a permit which would have required a topography drawing that would have failed due to code restricting just that sort of thing. The local village had the man tear out all the landscaping and have it redone by a professional company that was under permit.

            It was the neighbor’s behavior that caused the harm that needed remedy. I’m curious how you would have adjudicated this matter using your powers of mutual self governance?

          • I think you are in the wrong thread.

          • Do you believe government is to have control over people’s behavior if people’s behavior adversely impacts their community or society?

    • Oh, please. They’re a money-sucking bureaucracy set up to create an appearance of “caring,” nothing more. The money can be better spent elsewhere, like fighting breast cancer.

    • The “counsil’s effectiveness” is measure by the Republican House’s support and funding of it!!!

    • A government doesn’t make a country, the people and their values do. 95% of the current over-bloated government needs to be dismantled. The people who voted for Trump did so because they believe so, too.

      • Values don’t make a government, rather people make “values” mean anything they want it to mean as long as it serves their interests. Let’s say that a young man is hardworking and gets up every morning to do a job and works six days a week in all kinds of weather trying to grow his business while saving for a new car he can use for the business and new clothes that assist him in his sales efforts. Would you not call that man thrifty and industrious? What if his business is slinging drugs to kids? Does he still exemplify the values you like to see? What if he is a big-pharma executive? How do we calibrate his “values” now? Do you know people who have died in the opioid crisis? I do. Did they not possess the “values” to see that the drugs they were taking, often prescribed by a doctor, were bad for them? And what exactly takes the place of government once it is dismantled? Do you know or are you just guessing? If you think it is something better, more purposeful, more good for us, what if you are wrong? Finally, where does that 95% figure you cite come from? Two thirds of the US government’s annual budget is non-discretionary spending that can’t be dismantled by Trump or anyone else. The discretionary part is mostly comprised of defense spending, which creates far fewer jobs than other spending that could be done. Fact: Defense spending is not the best way to create jobs. A UMass-Amherst study found that $1 billion in military spending created 8,555 jobs. The same amount spent on public transit created 19,795 construction jobs. I think that figure of yours is unsourced and, quite frankly, uninformed. As far as I am concerned, it is inexcusable to live in the Information Age and be entirely misinformed and spewing misread or misunderstood “facts”. If you have some basis for what you put forth, would you be so kind to share it or shut up about it?

  • “Gays For Trump” are the Trumpette section for anti-gay action.

  • Best. President. For. LGBT. Ever!

    /s

  • LORD help the USA, because you have allowed the most despicable man alive to attain the office of president. He may, or may not have performed this disservice, but the very fact of his statements and actions lead one to easily believe so. And from the sources, we can only believe it.

  • Terrifyingly enough, this may be one more attempt to make him “Reaganesque”. Reagan ignored the epidemic completely.

    • Lie. He did not ignore the epidemic completely. But that sounds so convenient for your agenda.

      • You’re the liar trying to revise history! It’s you pushing the agenda!!

        Reagan ignored the epidemic encouraged by Christian conservatives pushing their anti-gay agenda! All Reagan did was unrealistically tell people to practice abstinence!

        • LOL! I’m a liar because you say so? What a maroon.

          From Wikipedia:
          President Reagan issued Executive Order 12601 creating the President’s Commission on the HIV Epidemic on June 24, 1987.[1] On June 26, he appointed Dr. W. Eugene Mayberry, CEO of the Mayo Clinic, to chair the commission. Jeff Levi, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force objected to the appointment of someone with no experience with the disease, but others praised Mayberry’s experience in both medical research and clinical services.

          • The disease emerged on the community in 1982 so you’re telling me it took Reagan FIVE years to appoint a commission! That’s a failure in leadership after millions had been infected and many died!

            The only reason Reagan did that was that children in particular babies were being born with it! The lives of gay men did not matter to him and I defy you to show me something that proves he did this for them!

          • 1987. Do you know when Reagan took office? Do you have any idea how many Americans were dead of AIDS by 1987? No, of course you don’t. It was tens of thousands before Reagan even uttered the words HIV or AIDS.

          • Probably because it started to affect the innocents in the general public by then. Yes, I said it. AIDS is innocently contracted by the general population, and it is ACQUIRED by high risk behavior of homosexual men. I don’t see a problem with responding when the non-culpable ones get sick.

          • As you pursue you little Wikipedia scholarship, please be aware that there may be people on this thread who knew people that died while the Reagan administration carefully steered their inaction into a corner where it could do no good. We will patiently wait for you to acquaint yourself with meatier research and come up with a cogent point. We have time.

          • Actually your AIDS will probably kill you soon…so you don’t have time.

          • Actually you’re a homophobic right-wing babbling idiot!

          • More responsibility shucking.

    • What epidemic? The CDC simply expanded the scope of the ‘epidemic’ to steadily increase the number of AIDS defining diseases from two in 1983 (kaposi sarcoma and PCP) to currently 30. Each of these diseases of course are all well know and pre-date the invention of the HIV virus. It’s about time people started calling out this crap. Enough money and lives have been sacrificed to the PC of it all.

  • Not since Reagan’s days has HIV been this political. HIV doesn’t know political party. It doesn’t know sexual orientation.

    This is about bringing new transmissions down to zero and curing those who have it. Anything short of that increases long term health care costs for everyone. That is what everyone doesn’t realize.

  • It is not “standard practice” to prematurely terminate members’ terms on these councils — I was a member of President Clinton’s PACHA and I continued to serve out the remember of my appointment for the first year+ of the George W Bush administration.

  • Without explanation? Seriously? What rock have you been hiding under these past 12 + months, Mr. Johnson? This is what Trump promised to do; whether you like it or not he is keeping his word to “drain the swamp”.

    …and yes, this useless committee is part of the muddy, stinking swamp that needs to be drained.

    • Trump is the creature from the black lagoon and only fills the swamp! You’re distortions can’t change the reality people see and hear themselves from your fake potus and his evil administration!

    • Drain the Swamp? Woo-Hoo! I’d say it’s getting drained! Walsh, Bharara, Yates, Flynn, Comey, Shaub, Dubke, Spicer, Priebus, Scaramucci, Bannon, Gorka, Price, and Manigault.

      Who’s next? Drain that Swamp, baby!

  • Donald Trump is a great man like King Cyrus of the Torah who will be used as God’s instrument to lead the nation back to him and punish the sodomites with death

    • La Honnie soit qui mal y Pense! Sanctimonious s”trump”ette!

    • Well, your god certainly has punished a lot of babies with death. Like, the millions, perhaps billions, he drowned in Genesis. Or the forty-two he had mauled to death by two she-bears in 2 Kings. Or (and this is soooo special to you Christians), the time he threatened to kill a baby in 2 Samuel…first he made it sick after it was born, then he tortured it for seven days…then he killed it.

      I’d say your god has a lot for which to answer, HW. And according to our secular laws, he should be locked up and the key thrown away.

    • “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (1 Timothy 2:12)

  • The president have a right and obligation to his supporters to purge the goverment of all employees who effectively are commiting treason by working against the presidents agenda

  • The president is doing what should of been did 30 years ago, let natural law extingish the homosexuals and the aids virys

  • I’m just going to “guess” that, since Trump is certainly no friend to the LGBTQ community, that this mass firing is simply another one of his ways to hit back at Obama, anything or anyone else who gets in the way of THAT agenda be damned. Lastly, I eagerly await the day Mueller can develop enough investigative material to force the impeachment of Trump.

    • Were Obama’s mass firings his way to “hit back” at GW Bush?

      Don’t be consistent or anything like that.

      • Obama was open to hiring people from both parties!

      • Obama’s firings were to replace people who thought ‘abstinence only’ was a realistic method for controlling the spreading HIV/AIDS epidemic. He replaced them with people who supported interventions that actually work, like condoms, needle exchange programs, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), etc. In other words people who evaluate interventions based on scientific evidence (can I say that in the CDC now?) as opposed to ideology.

  • Isn’t it strange that on the whole homosexuals were never healthier than when their behavior was universally condemned by society?

    • Are you homosexual? Frank roper’s comment is typical of what can be expected from social conservatives in regards to gay men! A reason why the community cannot trust them and never support them!

  • If Pence has any input don’t be surprised if these positions remain vacant or this council completely disappears.

  • People know how to prevent the spread of AIDS. Let the LBGTVPQCBS start their own group. What education do they need? You play, you pay. That’s enough of an education.

  • My New Years Wish is that both Ivanka and Tiffany hook up with people who were getting help with this disease and whose programs have been cut, and acquire the full blown version of the disease in record time.

    • It isn’t a disease dimwit. It’s a syndrome which encompasses 30 diseases, whose causes are well known and pre-date the invention of the HIV retrovirus. The level of ignorance on this subject among the dumbocrat population is the main reason the Pharmaceutical industrial complex has been able to get away with mass murder on an industrial scale. And their profits have soared accordingly.

      • Fine, let me rephrase that in the manner that the almighty kingkevin3 can approve.

        My New Years Wish is that both Ivanka and Tiffany hook up with people
        who were getting help with this syndrome which encompasses 30 diseases and whose programs have been
        cut, and acquire the full blown version of the syndrome which encompasses 30 diseases in record time.

        How is that OH mighty king of dimwits ?

  • I had to go to the UK to find the answer and it’s a reasonable one:
    “On December 27, 2017, the current members of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/Aids (Pacha) received a letter informing them that the Administration was terminating their appointments,” she said in a statement. ”They were also thanked for their leadership, dedication and commitment to the effort.”

    The statement also noted that changing the makeup of federal advisory committees is “a common occurrence during Administration changes”, and that former President Barack Obama had dismissed the Bush-era appointees on his council.

  • Here’s the explanations:
    Donald’s base — the entire GOP — hates gays.
    Donald constantly needs to punch down, because that’s what little punk bullies do.

  • It is true that Federal Advisory Committee Members do not receive compensation other than their travel expenses. However, it is also true that being a member of a Federal Advisory Committee can be used/promoted (especially by consultants) in other ways to produce/influence indirect income. As another matter, there is no reason that any President should be prohibited from assigning people of their choice to the advisory panel. For example, why would anyone want to surround themselves with advisors who have a complete ideological difference? Using this logic, Trump would have kept all of the Obama appointees…I don’t think so!

  • There should be no such thing as a right-wing or a leftist AIDS activist.

    If you think that there is, that the people are there to support a president’s or a political party’s policies over the welfare of the public, then you’re doing more harm than good.

    Hiring a candidate based on their political ideology defeats the purpose of unbiased advocacy. Surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals will not produce an environment rich in solutions that take in account a multitude of American voices. Right, left, and everything in between in needed to accomplish this- otherwise, you’re working for an institution instead of the greater good.

    It’s also important to note that Trump isn’t consistent with his dept. firings which is cause for concern. For instance, The President’s Cancer Panel is still intact with Obama’s nominees, amongst others. So you have to ask yourself, what makes the panel over HIV/AIDS different? (or better yet, the demographic they supposedly represent…)

  • HIV/AIDS research and education should be a bipartisan issue and the argument Trump can only support HIV/AIDS research with people he shares political ideologies with makes zero sense to me.

  • Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done
    !da13d:
    ➽➽
    ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleCashGoldCareerPartTimeJobs/get/hourly ✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱✱.

  • I will restate again my firm belief that any LGBTQ person who identifies as a Republican should be shunned by our community in all things and should be spat upon should he or she ever wander out in public.

  • As your may know, President Obama spent several million trying to prove that homosexuality is related to our genetic code to include and all of the LGBT probabilities. We are STILL looking for an association! The obvious conclusion is that it is a personal decision. Why are we so inclined to creating an issue. Life is what we as individuals make of it in all of our stupidity.

  • Good. This “group” was a lobby for the homosexuals. Glad they’re gone.

  • The Media is going nuts over President Trump being the boss and dismissing people. Our President wants the best team possible to get things done. Unlike Obama Trump is the Boss.

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