Screwed by the Shutdown? Trump Admin Tells Furloughed Workers To Barter with Landlords

The Office of Personnel Management advises employees receiving no pay to hire a personal attorney.

Niall Carson/ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

While President Donald Trump continues to hurl insults at Democrats and rage-tweet his way through the partial government shutdown, the US Office of Personnel Management has provided furloughed workers with sample letters they can send to creditors, landlords, and mortgage companies outlining why they might not be able to cover payments they owe because of the shutdown.

The letters, intended to assist the estimated 800,000 federal workers who have been sent home or who are now working without pay, were swiftly mocked on social media for including several eyebrow-raising recommendations, such as the suggestion that furloughed workers volunteer to perform maintenance duties in exchange for reduced rent payments. Painting and carpentry were listed as tasks hard-pressed federal employees could offer to take on, as Trump continues to threaten Democrats and Central American countries from the Oval Office.

The US Office of Personnel Management even offered this outrageous piece of advice: US government workers who have stopped receiving their paycheck and who need additional guidance ought to retain a personal attorney—an expensive and undoubtedly unrealistic option for many. 

Just before the shutdown, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) expressed skepticism at the idea that some federal workers lived paycheck to paycheck.

You can read the official sample letters below:


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend