Labor Department Adviser Leaves to Join Pro-Trump Nonprofit

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By Ben Penn

Curtis Ellis has left the Labor Department to join a pro-Trump organization, months after his past controversial writings sparked outrage over his role within the agency’s international office.

America First Policies, the nonprofit formed to tout the White House agenda, announced Oct. 2 that Ellis has been hired as a senior policy adviser. America First’s statement touted Ellis’ policy expertise on free trade and job growth.

Ellis joined the DOL on Inauguration Day as a “special adviser to the secretary of labor” and began taking an interest in the agency’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs. Ellis was one of two finalists to head ILAB, which works to ensure global workplaces don’t rely on child labor, forced labor, or human trafficking, sources told Bloomberg BNA in May.

Writings Spark Outrage

Ellis has a lengthy public record espousing protectionist and anti-Obama trade agenda views on WorldNetDaily, a website known for publishing stories questioning former President Barack Obama’s citizenship. Ellis columns have accused Democrats of plotting the “liquidation of white, blue-collar working families” and advanced the notion that “legal immigration threatens our society.”

When news broke of his involvement with ILAB, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, among others, issued statements of disapproval that the administration would entrust Ellis to represent the U.S. on the world stage. Later that week, Ellis departed prematurely from G-20 meetings in Germany, before he could be seen with newly sworn in Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

But he remained on the Labor Department’s beachhead team of temporary political advisers for months before leaving the agency.

A DOL spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment about the terms of Ellis’ exit.

America First Policies was founded in January by former top aides to Trump’s presidential campaign. Ellis made media appearances as a Trump surrogate during the run-up to the 2016 election.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Penn in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at

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