Nick Ayers, vice president Mike Pence’s chief of staff, has turned down a position as the White House’s top staffer. Instead, a source close to the White House told The Daily Beast, Ayers is expected to return to the pro-Trump dark money group he helped found.
Ayers and President Donald Trump agreed that the 36-year-old Republican phenom would not replace the outgoing White House chief of staff, John Kelly, after Trump and Ayers could not come to an agreement on the duration that he would hold the post, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
Ayers instead tweeted that he is also leaving the administration.
“Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House,” Ayers wrote on Twitter on Sunday evening. “I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause.”
That will likely include work for America First Policies, the dark money group that Ayers helped found last year, and which has become a key node in the pro-Trump political infrastructure, as first reported by Axios. America First and its sister super PAC will likely be integral to efforts to reelect Trump in 2020.
Ayers’ departure from government would mark a return to a private political consulting career that earned him huge paychecks between stints at GOP political outfits including the Republican National Committee and the Republican Governors Association and his work with Pence during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Personal financial disclosure documents filed with federal ethics officials showed that Ayers owned a stake in the firm C5 Creative Consulting worth between $5 million and $25 million. He also reported an ownership interest of between $1 million and $5 million in an investment firm called Holmsted LLC.
Ayers’ rise through the Trumpworld ranks was meteoric for an aide his age, and his reputation for loyalty and hard work earned him the trust of the president and those around him. Kelly’s replacement has yet to be announced, though Axios reported on Sunday that Trump is considering Rep. Mark Meadows, a conservative Republican from North Carolina, for the post.
If he does land at America First as expected, Ayers will be the latest in a long line of White House and Trumpworld figures to find homes at the group after occasionally controversial oustings from other, more prominent positions.
Since its founding last year, America First has employed former administration officials including Katie Walsh, a White House communications aide who was forced out amid internal press leak allegations, and Carl Higbie, who resigned from his senior post at the Corporation for National and Community Service after reports surfaced of a number of racist and Islamophobic comments.