I’m going to suggest avoiding businessmen for appointments to important Cabinet posts, moving forward, for President Trump.
Philip Bilden, Trump’s choice to fill the Secretary of the Navy slot, has withdrawn his name from nomination.
Bilden, a businessman and former Army officer, is following closely behind Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army, Vincent Viola, who withdrew earlier in February.
Both have cited divestment issues as their reason for withdrawing.
Bilden issued a statement Sunday saying he “will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without undue disruption” to his family’s private financial interests.
Trump is having real trouble filling some of his Cabinet posts, as Democrats stall and drag their feet about the confirmation process.
Having the nominees, themselves, walk away doesn’t help.
Trump nominated Bilden last month, lauding him as “the right choice to help us expand and modernize our fleet.”
Trump has vowed to increase the size of the Navy’s fleet to 350 ships. The Navy now has 274 of them, and such a buildup could prove costly. Navy budget expert Ronald O’Rourke has estimated the price tag at $165 billion over 30 years — not including staffing and maintenance. The USS Gerald R. Ford, a supercarrier launched in 2013 set to be commissioned this year, cost about $13 billion.
Trump knew he had backup in his desire to rebuild the Navy, with Bilden.
Bilden had served as an intelligence officer with the Army Reserve for eight years.
As a businessman, he co-founded a private equity investment management firm called HarbourVest Partners, and recently retired after 25 years.
He has also served on boards for the Naval War College and the Naval Academy Foundation.
How does an Army man get so wrapped up in Navy affairs?
He has two sons serving in the Navy, now.
As of this writing, Trump has not commented or named a new nominee, but Defense Secretary James Mattis has expressed his disappointment.