Velma Hart, Who Questioned Obama's Policies, Loses Job
CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent
Velma Hart, who told President Obama she was "exhausted" of defending him and became the face of disappointed Americans this fall, has lost her job.
In another casualty of a weak national economy, Ms. Hart learned late last week that she'd been laid off as chief financial officer of AmVets, a non-profit veterans service organization based outside of Washington, D.C.
"They called me in on a Friday afternoon," Ms. Hart told CNBC in an interview on Monday, "and said they had made a decision...we should make that cut."
Hart will be on CNBC Tuesday at 1:30 pm ET.
Even when she addressed Obama in a September 20 CNBC town hall meeting on the economy, Ms. Hart knew that the recent recession had put her job in danger through its dampening effect on donations, memberships and sponsorships at AmVets. She had hoped to remain on the job to help AmVets weather the financial storm, but instead became one of its casualties.
- Watch Hart's question to the president here.
- The Election's True Mandate: Hart's Column for CNBC
A spokesman for AmVets confirmed that Ms. Hart's layoff was "an economic decision that had nothing to do with her job performance." A White House spokeswoman had no comment.
The painful news caps a roller-coaster autumn for Ms. Hart. Her statement to Mr. Obama at the Town Hall drew immense national media exposure, from networks news programs to Comedy Central's The Daily Show to a profile in her hometown newspaper, The Washington Post.
The Hollywood actor Jamie Foxx even felt the need to rebut Ms. Hart's comment at a campaign rally for Mr. Obama in Los Angeles last month.
"What's in my heart is now, even more than I did before, I appreciate what millions of people who are in my condition now have been experiencing for the last two, three, four years," Ms. Hart said at the kitchen table of her home in Upper Marlboro, MD. "Of course I'm afraid. Everybody's a little afraid."
"I don't take lightly the fact that I know friends who've been looking for jobs for two years," she added. "Could it take me two years to find a job? Wow, that's a scary proposition for me and my family."
Ms. Hart said she continues to support Obama, though she worries he's been hurt by the recent midterm elections. As she and her family cope with her new financial setback, she plans to explore the administration's mortgage loan-modification program.
This Thanksgiving week, however, the wife and mother of two teenage girls is trying to remain upbeat.
"I'm a data-driven person," she said. "The data says the economy's getting better."
"I want to focus on the positive and be optimistic," she concluded. "And assume that somehow things will work out, that there's an opportunity out there with Velma's name on it that's right around the corner."
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