Much of the focus on the recent firing of Andrew McCabe from the FBI has dealt with the fact that he was only hours away from qualifying for his full retirement and pension plan as a federal employee. Dirty pool? Just desserts? It seems to be in the eye of the beholder. Of course, these things happen in the private sector all the time with far fewer violins playing a sad dirge. IBM has been in the business of shorting people close to retirement since the 90s, a move they clearly look at in terms of their bottom line over the long run.
But McCabe is only one man. His total retirement package is impressive, estimated by some to be worth up to $1.8M, but that’s hardly going to break the bank of the federal government. But has he really lost it? The WaPo is reporting that he has at least two offers for “short time” jobs with the government (possibly as short as one day) which could save his bacon and secure that golden parachute. One of them came from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) who said yesterday that he has offered McCabe a job working on election security. And if that doesn’t sound appealing, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) tweeted what sounded like an offer of his own.
Would be happy to consider this. The Sixth District of MA would benefit from the wisdom and talent of such an experienced public servant. https://t.co/ynQWhdzQpC
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) March 17, 2018
But would such an obvious scheme actually work? Would that qualify him for a retirement package which his service seems to have fallen short of meriting? Oddly enough, the answer seems to be “probably.”
McCabe’s team is confident that he had at least 20 years of law enforcement work under his belt — defined as carrying a weapon or supervising people who do — which made him eligible to retire on his 50th birthday on Sunday, with full retirement benefits.
With those 20 years, he would need to just go to work with the federal government for another day or so in any job he pleases, whether that’s as a election security analyst for a Wisconsin congressman or a typist for a day, to get full benefits, said the former official who spoke to The Fix. The job doesn’t matter so much as the fact that he’s working within the federal government with the same retirement benefits until or after his 50th birthday. (Though this former official stressed that it would probably look more ethical if McCabe worked for at least a pay period rather than just one day.)
So according to the generous compensation rules of Uncle Sam, someone in McCabe’s position would simply need to show that he’d worked a minimum of twenty years “in law enforcement” and also worked up to or past his 50th birthday to qualify. In terms of law enforcement, he seems to have it covered. He went to work for the FBI in New York in 1996 and stayed with them continuously, advancing to a supervisor position at the Bureau’s main headquarters in 2006, continuing on until 2016 when he was promoted to deputy director. So far so good. But he also has to be a federal employee past the age of fifty, which he reaches today.
If he takes a job chatting about election security with Pocan for an afternoon or running out to pick up coffee and donuts for Seth Moulton’s office tomorrow morning he should be in the clear. Should we really be all that upset over it? Maybe not, but it does make me wonder how all the other federal employees who have exited Washington these past few years, some short of retirement themselves, are going to feel. Nobody was rushing into battle to offer them a special deal and they were left to scramble. It’s particularly jarring if some of them were let go only through “normal budget and staffing cuts” while McCabe will have his pension saved after being fired for cause.
If this doesn’t work and McCabe loses his retirement benefits, what else can he do? If James Comey is any example to go by he shouldn’t have to worry very much. There should be an immediate offer for a book deal which could easily land him most of that $1.8M figure attached to his pension plan. Either MSNBC or CNN would likely do backflips to land him as a guest commentator and that should be worth a few bucks. And if he’s seen as seriously damaging Trump’s presidency, George Soros or someone of his ilk can no doubt find room for McCabe on one of their companies’ board of directors until he’s saved up enough to be comfortable.
Now that I think about it, why would McCabe even bother showing up for one more day of work? Without all that much effort he should probably end up on easy street. And for a closing note, one more voice is weighing in on the subject. Marco Rubio thinks McCabe should have just been allowed to retire without all this muss and fuss. Hmmm… what’s the strategy behind putting that out there?