Exposure of social media attacks lands senior federal health official on administrative leave

Key Points
  • Jon Cordova, a top Health and Human Services Department official, is placed on administrative leave after a news story exposed his social media posts that attacked multiple people.
  • In his posts, Cordova blasted Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Sen. Ted Cruz and Gold Star father Khizr Khan.
  • Cordova had been a delegate to the Republican National Convention for Donald Trump and a spokesman in California for the Trump campaign.
Jon Cordova, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration.
Source: HHS Office of the Secretary

A senior U.S. Health and Human Services Department official has been placed on administrative leave after a news site uncovered a series of social media posts attacking opponents of President Donald Trump and making groundless claims.

The official, Jon Cordova, among other things, reportedly called Hillary Clinton a "slimy trailer trash huckster" in one post.

Cordova also reportedly shared on Facebook a story that claimed without any evidence that Gold Star father Khizr Khan is a "Muslim Brotherhood agent," and shared a doctored image of a black man holding a poster reading "No mother should have to fear for her son's life every time he robs a store."

Khan spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where he criticized Trump for "consistently" smearing "the character of Muslims."

And Cordova — who is HHS' principal deputy assistant secretary for administration — shared baseless stories claiming that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, frequented prostitutes, according to CNN, which detailed the posts in a story published online Tuesday.

Cordova also reportedly wrote in a 2013 Facebook post: "Racist? The real racist are the democrats, [Barack] Obama is half white, if his genes somehow made him look like Paul Ryan, same accomplishments — Would he be president. Reason 95% of Blacks wouldnt vote for him."

Those postings would be problematic for any top federal official — but are particularly so in the case of Cordova, who oversees "day-to-day operations" of HHS' Human Resources office and Equal Opportunity Compliance, according to HHS.

CNN reported that on Cordova's since-deleted Twitter account he called for a boycott of Budweiser because the company supposedly supported "jihadis" over whites for immigration. He also speculated that a gunman in a shooting at a community college was Muslim, but the attacker was not, according to CNN.

His tweets also likened MoveOn.org and the Black Lives Matter movement to Nazis, CNN said.

An HHS spokeswoman told CNBC on Wednesday that "Mr. Cordova is currently on administrative leave while we look into this issue further."

Cordova did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Cordova's LinkedIn page says he was a delegate for Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention and served as California communications director for the Trump campaign and presidential transition.

When Cordova joined HHS last February, he was working under the Office of White House Liaison.

He assumed his current post in April.

His HHS biography says that in his job he provides "direct support to the Assistant Secretary for Administration for HHS and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Office of Human Relations, Office of the Chief Information Officer ... and the Program Support Center," as well the human resources and equal opportunity offices.