An annual report released by the White House last week offers insights into exactly how much money those closest to the president are making. Notable among salaries released in this year's report was a raise given to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. According to the report, she is making $14,700 more than she was at this time last year, totaling $179,700 a year, overall.
That salary lands Sanders among the highest paid White House employees on the books. Per the report, she is tied with people like John Bolton, Kellyanne Conway, and Daniel Scavino, all who are among a select group making up the White House's top earners. In contrast, all three of President Barack Obama's press secretaries started out at around $172,200 a year, with much smaller raises from year to year, if any, per archived reports.
Sanders was promoted to her role last summer, after Sean Spicer tendered his resignation as press secretary. Sanders, who is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's daughter, joined Trump's campaign back in 2016. She then entered the White House as principal deputy press secretary after Trump was elected, and frequently filled in for Spicer during press briefings.
Huckabee senior ran for president himself in 2016, and Sanders helped manage his campaign then. But after he dropped out, he pledged his support to Trump, and Sanders swiftly joined the future president's camp.
By and large, the press secretary position is considered to be one of the most difficult jobs within the administration. Secretaries must function as the de-facto face of the administration, and face direct scrutiny from members of the press. Unlike other members of the administration, she is less able to shield herself through less direct communications, such as press releases or tweets. Many of her interactions take place face-to-face, during recorded near-daily briefings.
Sanders' job is particularly challenging. Trump has proven to be an unpredictable and unorthodox president, hence subjecting himself and his staff to a different level of scrutiny than past administrations. Research has indicated that the media is more critical of Trump than it was of his predecessor. Per the Pew Research Center, which released a report in October of 2017, 62 percent of media coverage within the first 60 days of Trump's presidency featured an over-all negative assessment of his words or actions. According to Pew, that's about three times more negative coverage than Obama received within the first 60 days of his own administration.
Earlier in June, CBS News reported that Sanders was mapping out her resignation. Unnamed sources told the news outlet that she plans to leave by the end of the year, though Sanders has not confirmed these reports.
"Does @CBSNews know something I don’t about my plans and my future?" Sanders tweeted in response to the CBS report, on June 13. "I was at my daughter’s year-end Kindergarten event and they ran a story about my 'plans to leave the WH' without even talking to me. I love my job and am honored to work for @POTUS."
It is quite typical for presidents to have more than one press secretary during their tenure in office, though on average they tend to stick around a little bit longer. According to Heavy, the average press secretary stays on the job for about 2.9 years. Sanders, for her part, is approaching her one-year mark.
If Sanders does depart within the relatively near future, she would not be alone. The White House has had record staff turnover in the last year, according to an AP analysis. Per the report, nearly 150 people who were working for the president at this time last year have since departed. That brings the turnover rate to approximately 37 percent, overall.
During her time as press secretary, Sanders has been a fierce defender of the president and his policies. If she were to depart, Trump would lose what appears to have been one of his most loyal staff members. Until further notice, however, Sanders is still on the job.