Taxpayers on the hook for ‘tens of thousands of dollars’ to coach flailing CDC director, ‘keep her afloat’: report

The Biden administration wasted over $25,000 for the Director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, to get media training and executive coaching despite services already available via the federal government.

The total spent was $25,750 and an additional $30,500 was authorized for the training, according to CDC expense authorization filings that were obtained by Politico.

Walensky hired longtime Democratic political consultant Mandy Grunwald in October of 2021 for virtual media training that cost a whopping $500 an hour. Grunwald’s firm has been paid $16,000 by the CDC for Walensky’s training with an authorization to spend $14,000 more.

Walensky also employed a coach to improve her management skills. The CDC paid Wellesley Partners $9,750 in March 2021 for coaching with an authorization to pay $16,500 more. These services also cost $500 an hour.

The Government Employees Training Act (GETA) allows for Walensky’s training. It gives agencies discretion in paying for these types of employee expenses.

Grunwald’s firm stated that the “training objective” for Walensky was to “assist [Walensky’s] team in crafting clear language to communicate CDC’s public health guidance and coach Dr. Walensky to effectively deal with television interviews and other public communications.”

Jason McDonald, Walensky’s spokesperson, told Politico that “CDC directors have long received media coaching to ensure they are effectively and clearly communicating to public health partners and the American people – elements vital to disease outbreak responses.”

He also contended that “the selection of an executive coach is a personal thing and the best coaches are those with which the principal can establish rapport and trust.” He asserted that Walensky selected the coach that “best suited her.”

The federal government purportedly already had coaching programs that were set up for the executive branch whose “services may be shared across agencies at no cost,” according to the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, which assists in coordinating the programs. Those programs were not utilized by the CDC.

The CDC’s spending on the training was revealed through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative group Americans for Public Trust, which then shared the information with Politico.

Dr. Walensky’s entire tenure has been plagued by poor communication, conflicting guidance, and a forced revamp of her agency,” said Caitlin Sutherland, who is the executive director for Americans for Public Trust. “And now we learn that taxpayers are on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in coaches and consultants to keep her afloat.”

Walensky’s training shows how concerned the CDC and the Biden administration were with messaging surrounding the pandemic. It was vital for the left to present propaganda in just the right light and therefore leftist coaches were brought into the mix at great expense.

Unfortunately, a lot of that training seemed to go to waste with confusing and vague guidance over masking mandates, isolation guidelines, and the rollout of booster shots issued.

Max Stier, who is the CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, which provides executive coaching to federal agencies including the CDC, remarked that Walensky should be applauded for employing a coach, not stigmatized for it.

“There can’t be that many jobs that are more complex than running the CDC right now so any help she can get is worth it,” he claimed. “Kudos to her for understanding that that is actually important to prioritize. Leaders get so much in the do mode that they can forget that investing in how to do pays off.”

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