President Donald Trump’s pick to help lead the Pentagon’s personnel office abruptly withdrew his name from consideration this week after a controversial, anti-immigrant opinion piece he wrote in 2017 began circulating on Capitol Hill.
The controversy and withdrawal was first reported by Politico. A person familiar with the situation confirmed the withdrawal on Tuesday evening.
The move again leaves the Defense Department’s personnel and readiness office — responsible for recruiting, health and morale policies and pay issues — with an unclear leadership future.
J. David Patterson, currently the senior vice president of strategic business opportunities at the management consulting firm SMA Inc., was announced last month as the nominee for the deputy under secretary for personnel and readiness post. The job is the second-ranking leader in the office, but the under secretary post has been vacant since July 2018.
Currently, Under Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan is filling that top role in an acting basis. He is the fifth acting administrator to man the job in the last five years. White House officials have not said whether he is under consideration to be nominated for the post full-time.
Patterson’s nomination was seen as some relief to that leadership upheaval, filling at least one of the top spots in the office.
He is a former Air Force pilot who served for 23 years, retiring at the rank of colonel. He previously served as principal deputy under secretary of defense in the Comptroller’s Office from 2005 to 2008.
But according to the Politico report, prospects for Patterson’s nomination soured when a 2017 op-ed he co-wrote for The Federalist began circulating among lawmakers’ offices.
In the piece, Patterson links “multiculturalism” and a lack of immigrants assimilating into American culture for an increase in mass shootings, teen pregnancy and “moral decay” throughout America.
“Multiculturalism is the antithesis of what the United States stands for and the foundational thinking of our founding fathers that sustains America as its own unique society,” he wrote.
“You see, in the United States, we have a Constitution that establishes the basic tenets of American society and the laws by which we all abide. So when immigrants come to the United States for whatever reason, they don’t get to supplant U.S. laws with their own, whether Sharia law or whatever strikes their fancy.”
Pentagon officials and White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the nomination.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.
Joe Gould is senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.