In his continuing efforts to “drain the swamp,” President Trump has decided to utilize the services of a home improvement contractor married to one of Melania Trump’s household staff as an official at the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a report on Politico today.
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Presumably, the President thought a home improvement contractor would know how to deal with the severe environmental issues that a festering swamp engenders. Having a relative of his own household staff at the EPA will surely help with the cleanup he must have reasoned.
(A relevant question at this juncture is whether household staff is to cleaning lady as sanitation engineer is to garbageman. All are worthy, honest professions, but the former titles seem so much more important.)
On Dec. 18 Steve Kopec joined EPA’s Region 2 office in New York as a special assistant, according to a memo obtained by Politico.
“Steve comes to us from private industry, where he fashioned his career around customer service and organizational efficiencies,” EPA Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez wrote in the memo. “Steve is an experienced manager with skills in team building, management and organization.”
Exactly what the duties of a special assistant in a regional EPA office may consist of is not exactly clear, with EPA officials only willing to say that the job entails performing “administrative and support services.”
Mr. Kopek’s previous experience had absolutely nothing to do with the environment or protecting it. Kopek ran a contracting business called “Steve’s Tools in Motion” from his home in Haskell, New Jersey. His wife, Dagmara, worked as household staff for the Trumps when they lived in New York.
The memo that Politico obtained was written by EPA Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez, who provided some hints at the reasons Trump may give for offering his housekeeper’s husband a lucrative government job:
“Steve comes to us from private industry, where he fashioned his career around customer service and organizational efficiencies. Steve is an experienced manager with skills in team building, management and organization.”
With a history of nepotism and cronyism in his hiring for his administration, Trump has installed his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner into senior White House positions despite their lack of government experience (or final, properly vetted security clearances for that matter).
His former caddy Dan Scavino is now White House Social Media Director. A former party planner for Eric Trump’s wedding, Lynne Patton was installed to lead the New York office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The general counsel of the Project on Government Oversight, Scott Amey, says that many administrations from both parties have made hires more motivated by politics and friendship than by qualifications, but that the practice can backfire when unqualified people are installed at federal agencies.
“If you put friends in high places and they don’t have the proper qualifications it can have disastrous results for the agency and for taxpayers,” Amey said. “We hope that public service positions are filled with people that are qualified to best serve the public interest.”
Mr. Kopek and his wife are Polish immigrants, a country that Trump apparently doesn’t consider enough of a shithole that he should try to send them back to it. He often goes by his Polish name, Slawomir, according to Politico. He and his wife
EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said this about Kopek in an official statement in response to questions about his hiring:
“Mr. Kopec is a hard-working, dedicated employee and we appreciate his service, in supporting environmental protection efforts in New York, New Jersey, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.”
Another EPA official said that Kopec can speak four languages and travels multiple hours a day to the EPA office in New York from his home in New Jersey, which makes one wonder why he wasn’t given a position at the State Department instead of the EPA. Hope he has fun helping drain those swamps.