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Trump Intergovernmental Affairs Official: ‘We Have an Open Door Policy’

President Trump speaks during a Thursday news conference in the East Room of the White House.

President Trump speaks during a Thursday news conference in the East Room of the White House. Evan Vucci / AP Photo

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Connecting state and local government leaders

The deputy director of the White House’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs encouraged state and local officials to reach out: “Come in, meet with us, let us know what’s going on.”

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s intergovernmental affairs office wants to hear from state and local governments, an official from the office emphasized Thursday.

White House deputy director of intergovernmental affairs, Billy Kirkland, spoke during a meeting of secretaries of state from around the U.S. held in the nation’s capital. He said part of President Trump’s agenda “is going to be reaching out to you all individually and finding out what is important to each of your states, what is important to each of your offices.”

Kirkland did not offer new information on progress being made toward policy priorities Trump has identified—such as repealing the Affordable Care Act, changing the tax code and investing in infrastructure—which could have implications for states and localities.

He said the intergovernmental affairs team would not focus heavily on policy, that it would instead act as a liaison between state and local governments and White House policy officials.

“If they’re not getting back to you,” he told the secretaries of state, “we’ll be the ones that run over there and either knock on the door gently, or start kicking the door in, to make sure that you’re all getting the information you need in a timely manner.”

The intergovernmental affairs office, Kirkland added, would be “kind of divided into two separate silos,” with one side working mostly with governors and other statewide elected officials and the other side geared more toward local government issues.

Kirkland made his remarks during a panel discussion held as part of the National Association of Secretaries of State winter conference. During the discussion, he shared his contact information, including his personal cell phone number, with the entire audience.

“Give us a call, shoot us an email,” he said. “When you’re in town, we want you all to come in and feel like we have an open-door policy. Come in, meet with us, let us know what’s going on.”

Following the panel discussion, Kirkland declined to discuss the intergovernmental affairs office in greater detail with Route Fifty, and referred questions to the White House press office.

During last year’s election, the Trump campaign brought on Kirkland as a strategist in Georgia.

Prior to that time, in 2015, he founded the Atlanta-based political campaign and public affairs strategy firm, PWK Group, LLC, according to the company’s website. He served as campaign manager in 2014 for U.S. Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican.

The White House director of intergovernmental affairs is Justin Clark, a lawyer who has been previously involved in Connecticut politics. Clark was deputy national political director of Trump’s presidential campaign.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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