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Trump Appoints Mitch McConnell’s Brother-In-Law To Lead U.S. Pension Agency

Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

If confirmed, Gordon Hartogensis will head the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

President Donald Trump nominated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s brother-in-law Gordon Hartogensis to head the federal agency responsible for paying pensions to workers after employers end their retirement plans.

Hartogensis helps govern his family’s trust and is the CEO of Auric Technology, a closely held software company, according to his LinkedIn page. In making the announcement, the White House did not provide biographical information about him or answer questions about his relationship to [Secretary of Transportation Elaine] Chao and McConnell, who are married. Hartogensis is married to one of Chao’s sisters, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Should the Senate confirm him, Hartogensis would lead the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which operates insurance programs for single- and multi-employer pension plans – one of which is running a large deficit.

Both owe more in future liabilities than they have in assets, though the program for single employers is expected to reach balance by 2022.

The multi-employer program, however, had assets of only $2.3 billion and liabilities of $67 billion as of September 30, according to congressional testimony by [current PBGC Director Tom] Reeder. He described its financial condition as “dire and without action will be worse.” It’s projected to be insolvent by 2025.

CNBC reported Tuesday that a White House official said Hartogensis will use his “strong business skills" to reverse course at the agency:

[A] White House official who requested anonymity said that the appointee has a background in a variety of business roles, including entrepreneur and chief technology officer, but that his most recent role as an investment manager "makes him uniquely qualified to run the PBGC."

"Since 2013, PBGC's deficit has doubled, and he will use his strong business skills to put the PBGC back on a firm financial footing," the official said.

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