Questionable Nomination of Meridian President Lee Satterfield to Department that Currently Funds Her Organization

Monday, June 21, 2021 // Research

Lee Satterfield is Biden’s new nominee for Assistant Secretary of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the State Department. These positions are handed out to the most faithful supporters within the political elite and Satterfield is no stranger to the well-connected in DC. Satterfield herself, the current President and COO of the Meridian International Center, boasts a long career of partisan political activity.

A brief glance of Satterfield’s career as a political insider:

  • Worked for the Clinton administration in various positions in the ‘90s
  • Employed at the Democratic National Committee and as an independent consultant through the early and mid-2000s
  • Joined the Obama Administration at the State Department until her transition to Meridian International Center

With Satterfield as President, Meridian reaped millions of dollars from taxpayer grants. In their 2018 public 990 IRS report, the not-for-profit Meridian International Center hauled in a whopping $40,716,222. That might seem like a reasonable amount of money for an organization that is 60 years old, but a deep dive into the report reveals that nearly 90% of their funding is provided by government grants.

Just over $35.9 million of Meridian’s $40 million budget that year consisted of taxpayer dollars funneled through the government grant making process to political insiders like Satterfield.

Conflict of Interest and the Revolving Door

Is there a conflict of interest with Satterfield, the President of Meridian International Center, going to the State Department?

According to USASpending.gov, there seems to be a major ethical concern regarding the influence Satterfield will have from her leadership post at State to reward former colleagues. Specifically, ensuring grant dollars continue to flow to her soon-to-be ex-organization, Meridian. This matters greatly considering Meridian’s annual budget comes from taxpayer grants primarily through the State Department.

In Fiscal Year 2018, Meridian received $38.63 million dollars from the State Department. In FY 2019, 2020, and so far in 2021, Meridian International Center received a cumulative total of $60.11 million in taxpayer dollars ($35.97 million, $15.26 million, and $8.88 million respectively) — nearly $100 million in 4 years.

The revolving door of political influence keeps the gravy train of grant money rolling to those with the best connections. Satterfield is the top executive of an organization that can only exist by leeching off the backs of taxpayers. Planting Satterfield at a top post at the State Department is a surefire way for Meridian to maintain its influence; the quintessential revolving door of politics.

Using a position of power and influence to ensure that tax dollars continue to be directed to friends and former colleagues is grossly unethical, leaving this nomination to be highly suspect at the outset.

Keeping the Mainstream Media Close

There is another reason for Biden nominating Satterfield. Along with maintaining a revolving door for political cronies in government, Biden snuggles up to an already friendly DC press corp. Satterfield’s husband, Patrick Steel, is the CEO of Politico – a mainstream media site reporting the “inside-the-beltway” news. Politico’s reporting is already extremely favorable towards the Biden administration and the addition of Satterfield’s nomination will be sure to buy even more favor.

The theme of the Satterfield nomination is how the Swamp protects and preserves its own – its own people, its interests, its reputation, its political careers, its lucrative money streams, and its power that is all derived by a consenting populace.