By Debbie Gregory.
President-elect Trump may be considering Lockheed Martin Senior Vice President Leo Mackay, Jr. to fill one of the few remaining cabinet posts, the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Trump has publicly sparred with Lockheed Martin in the past few weeks, arguing that the defense contractor wastes billions in tax dollars building F-35 fighter jets that are behind schedule and over-budget.
Mackay, who served as deputy VA secretary under President George W. Bush, met with the president-elect, and said that he and Trump had a “good discussion.”
He added that “things are progressing; we’ll keep having a conversation.”
“The president-elect is up on the issues and very concerned about the department and veterans issues,” Mackay said. “He’s a first-class veterans advocate and we had a good conversation.”
Other rumored contenders have included former Sen. Scott Brown, former House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller and Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth, who helped grow Concerned Veterans for America into an influential veterans’ advocacy group.
A 1983 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Mackay was born into a military family in San Antonio, Texas and grew up on, and around, military installations. He lived in Japan as a child and spent two years of high school in Tehran, Iran. He served in the Navy as a naval aviator. He completed pilot training in 1985, graduating at the top of his class. He spent three years in Fighter Squadron Eleven flying the F-14, attended Fighter Weapons School (Topgun), and compiled 235 carrier landings and 1,000 hours in the F-14. He also served as an instructor at the Naval Academy
The VA secretary search carries unusual significance for the Trump team given how intensely the president-elect focused on veterans issues during his campaign.
Trump regularly blasted the VA as a prime example of the Obama administration’s failures, especially when whistleblowers exposed the agency’s nationwide use of fake patient waiting lists to conceal long delays in health care in 2014.