PHOENIX — Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the chief financial officer at NASA.
If confirmed by the Senate, DeWit said he would resign his statewide elected office, although that could be months from now.
“By the time I get through the Senate confirmation it could be near the very end of my term anyway,’ he said Thursday. “So it’s really good timing.
“I’ve been offered many positions before this but I wanted to wait until at least I’m in the last year of my term, which this basically is now,” DeWit said.
DeWit served as chief operating officer and chief financial officer for Trump’s presidential campaign last year and has a close relationship with the president.
DeWit is a first-term Republican and state law requires that the replacement appointed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey be of the same party. Ducey said he hasn’t yet given much thought to whom he might pick to succeed DeWit.
DeWit previously said he would not run for a second term as treasurer. Announced candidates for the Republican nomination include state Sen. Kimberly Yee and Tom Forese, an Arizona Corporation Commission member who won the seat in 2014 after serving in the Legislature. DeWit has endorsed Yee but has a fractious relationship with Ducey.
DeWit said he would prefer that a career treasurer employee be named to head the department that oversees state finances until after next year’s election.
“We have some people running for that office right now, and I don’t think it would be fair to appoint somebody that’s running for the office,” he said. “I think that’s kind of putting a thumb on a scale.”
DeWit had been considering running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jeff Flake, who decided last month not to seek re-election after polling showed his criticism of Trump and a changing Republican Party base made his race unwinnable.
As NASA CFO, DeWit would oversee the space agency’s nearly $20 billion budget. Before running for state treasurer as a political newcomer in 2014, he was CEO of an investment company he founded and worked in financial futures trading. He is married and has three school-age daughters.
He said it is likely the family would need to relocate to Washington, where NASA headquarters is located.
“There’s a lot of exciting things coming for NASA and for our country through that agency,” he said, “and if I can be a part of helping that process I think that’s a good way to serve the country.”