Trump White House Lawyers: How Much Are They Worth? (Part 3)

Trump White House Lawyers: How Much Are They Worth? (Part 3)

Don McGahn (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Don McGahn (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Welcome back to the last post in our three-part series analyzing the wealth of the lawyers who work in President Donald Trump’s White House. In case you missed them, part 1 is here and part 2 is here.

I previously promised you a look at the largest lawyerly fortune of them all. Here it is:

1. Jared Kushner

Like Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner is now a household name. President Trump’s son-in-law, who holds the titles of assistant to the president and senior adviser to the president, is a 2007 graduate of NYU Law (and his classmates recently sent him an open letter imploring him “to use your deep sense of compassion to influence the Trump Administration in a positive way”).

Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, preside over a business empire worth as much as $740 million. For more, see this Times article.

2. Donald McGahn

Don McGahn, Above the Law’s reigning Lawyer of the Year, graduated from Widener Law in 1994. He was a partner at Jones Day, his base of operations when he served as counsel to the Trump campaign, and he became White House Counsel after President Trump took office.

Open up the Jones Day black box, and you’ll see a very nice sum for Don McGahn: $2,406,772 in partner compensation (far above Am Law’s estimate for profits per partner at Jones Day, a shade over $1 million). In addition, as noted by the National Law Journal, “McGahn—who sports long, hard rocker-esque locks—reported $4,900 in earnings from his side hustle playing the guitar in an ‘80s cover band called Scott’s New Band.”

As for assets, McGahn has employment-related assets (including retirement accounts) worth somewhere between $715,000 and $1.8 million, and a bank account containing somewhere between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000 in cash. He also claims, per the NLJ, to be entitled to compensation and capital ($100,001-$250,000) from Patton Boggs, where he was briefly a partner before the firm’s 2014 merger with Squire Sanders.

So McGahn has done well for himself — but by Biglaw partner standards, he might be below average (depending on how much cash is really in that bank account). Compare his net worth to that of the Kellyanne and George Conway (Wachtell Lipton), worth somewhere between $10 million and $40+ million, or SEC nominee Jay Clayton (Sullivan & Cromwell), worth at least $50 million.

3. William McGinley

Bill McGinley, Cabinet secretary, is another alum of Jones Day’s election-law practice (and of George Washington Law School, where he earned $2,500 for teaching as an adjunct). He didn’t do quite as well as Don McGahn, reporting a little over $1.5 million in partnership income from JD. His employment-related assets (such as retirement accounts) are worth somewhere between $776,000 and $2.1 million, and he has a bank account containing between $500,001 and $1 million.

4. Stefan Passantino

Stefan Passantino, deputy counsel to the president, was a partner in the Atlanta office of Dentons, where he chaired the political-law practice. He went to law school in Georgia as well, graduating from Emory Law. He earned around $660,000 from the firm in 2016 and the first few weeks of 2017, representing such clients as Gingrich Productions (Newt Gingrich’s production company) and Dr. Ben Carson. His employment and retirement-related assets are worth at least $1.55 million, including $254,000 in his Dentons capital account that he expects back over the course of 12 months ending in April 2018 (reflecting the trend of firms not immediately refunding capital to departing partners). His other assets are modest, with a bank account holding $100,001-$250,000 as the largest single item.

5. Joshua Pitcock

As assistant to the president and chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, Josh Pitcock does not hold a legal post at the White House, but he does have a law degree (from Wake Forest). His 2016 income came from his consulting business, Pitcock Consulting ($283,000), and the Trump campaign and transition ($41,000). He has more than $250,000 in employment- and retirement-related assets, plus more than $300,000 in other assets. Normally filers are not required to report the value of personal residences, but Pitcock reported his ($500,001-$1,000,000) because he derives rental income from renting out its lower level.

6. Reince Priebus

Chief of staff Reince Priebus is most famous as a political figure, but he is a lawyer by training — he graduated in 1998 from the University of Miami’s law school, where he served as president of the student body. The Republican National Committee, which he led as chair, paid him almost $500,000 in 2016. His former law firm, Michael Best & Friedrich of Milwaukee, paid him more than $800,000 (in the form of an equity buyout, a partnership distribution, and a bonus). He owns at least $350,000 in other assets, including two bank accounts with more than $300,000.

7. Schuyler Schouten

Schuyler Schouten, special assistant to the president and associate White House counsel, joined the White House from Davis Polk & Wardwell, where he earned $342,693 in salary and bonus. (The firm also paid $2,167 into his Health Saving Account, reflecting its adoption of a high-deductible employee health plan combined with an HSA for employees.) He’s managed to save a lot while at DPW, with between $100,001 and $250,000 in his firm-sponsored 401(k), and he reports other assets worth more than $800,000 — very nice for someone just 10 years out of law school. (Schouten graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007, worked for Davis for a few years, worked as an aide to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and returned to Davis.)

(Note to NLJ: Schuyler is a he.)

8. James Schultz

Now senior associate White House counsel, James Schultz previously led the government law and regulatory affairs practice at Cozen O’Connor, where he earned $717,000 last year. His assets, both employment-related and otherwise, are ample, worth at least $2.5 million (and quite possibly a lot more; $2.5 million assumes his “residential property in Cape May, NJ,” presumably a nice beach house, is worth just $1 million, even though it could be worth as much as $5 million).

That’s all for the financial disclosures filed by lawyers and collected by the National Law Journal, the New York Times, and Politico. But a reader directed our attention to one additional financial disclosure by a lawyer working in the White House, and it’s quite delicious:

Why not cover the lovely Zina Gelman Bash again, who is apparently also fabulously wealthy?

“Again” because Zina Bash and her husband, John Bash, won Legal Eagle Wedding Watch a decade ago. Here is their New York Times wedding announcement, which notes their amazing credentials: four Harvard degrees between the two of them (college and law, all with varying levels of honors), and super-prestigious clerkships: Justice Antonin Scalia for him, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh for her (and, like pretty much every Kavanaugh clerk, she went on to clerk for SCOTUS, for Justice Samuel Alito).

It seems that those degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School just weren’t enough for her. In 2013, Zina Bash got her MBA from U. Penn’s Wharton School.

Now, on to her finances. Zina Bash, who’s a member of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House, is ridiculously rich. Per our tipster:

The young heiress reports [as much as] $18 million in assets, generating passive income of over $1 million last year…. [B]ut instead of using her wealth and connections to sit on a beach, she is using it to immerse herself in conservative politics, first as deputy director of policy for Ted Cruz and now for Trump’s White House.

If you look at her financial disclosure, you’ll see that $18 million requires treating each asset as worth the top of its value range. But don’t feel too bad for Zina Bash; the lower bound of her fortune is still $4.4 million. And considering that her assets produced more than $1 million in passive income last year, they are surely worth well above the bottom of the range.

UPDATE (9:40 p.m.): Alas, it seems our tipster misread Bash’s disclosure. Item 6 under “Other Assets and Income” is the Zina Gelman Bash 2015 Investment Trust, which contains items 6.1, 6.11, 6.12, and 6.13. So her total assets are actually somewhere between $1.8 million and $6.75 million, and they generate passive income of $350,000. So not an eight-figure fortune — but still not bad for someone in her mid-thirties!

How did Zina Bash amass such assets? Sure, her former firm of Gibson Dunn pays well, but not that well; it seems she enjoys family money. Not surprisingly, Bash’s major assets are trusts, family partnerships, and shares in Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, where her father Lawrence Gelman is chief executive.

Our source describes Larry Gelman as a “conservative activist and Texas hospital magnate,” and that seems accurate. He’s a major donor to Republican political candidates. He used to host a radio show called Talk Back (with Rabbi Steven Rosenberg), where his bio called him a “South Texas based physician, hospital administrator, conservative activist and media personality,” whose show “focus[es] on today’s political, social, and economic issues from a traditional and unrelenting conservative perspective.”

Let’s end on a high note. Zina Gelman Bash’s glittering résumé and million-dollar fortune seem like a fine ending point for our deep dive into the financial disclosures of attorneys toiling in Trump’s White House.

Have we missed any lawyers or law school graduates in the Trump White House with publicly available financial disclosures? If so, feel free to let us know (subject line: “Trump Financial Disclosures”).

Trump Lawyers’ Financial Disclosures Reveal Big Law Salaries, Client Lists [National Law Journal]
Who’s Worth What at the White House: The Financial Disclosures [New York Times]
White House staff financial disclosures: A deeper dive into the forms [Politico]
Kellyanne Conway Valued Polling Firm at $5 Million, Filing Shows [BloombergPolitics]

Earlier: Trump White House Lawyers: How Much Are They Worth? (Part 1)
Trump White House Lawyers: How Much Are They Worth? (Part 2)

DBL square headshotDavid Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law and the author of Supreme Ambitions: A Novel. He previously worked as a federal prosecutor in Newark, New Jersey; a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. You can connect with David on Twitter (@DavidLat), LinkedIn, and Facebook, and you can reach him by email at


Published at Wed, 05 Apr 2017 23:41:39 +0000

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