Yesterday’s Washington Post finally got around to “breaking” a story we told you about a long time ago; the revelation that Washington Insider and Boehner confidant Johnny DeStefano is in charge of White House personnel.
Lisa Rein observed in her article detailing why it has taken so long to staff-up the Trump administration, that if Johnny DeStefano applied for a job in the Trump administration, chances are pretty good that Johnny DeStefano wouldn’t hire him.
We must respectfully disagree with Ms. Rein’s assessment, given who has and has not been hired, but she certainly got the details of the DeStefano’s biography – and why it does not inspire confidence in conservatives – right.
The summer of Johnny DeStefano’s junior year at Saint Louis University, his uncle, a longtime Capitol Hill chief of staff, helped get him an internship with then-Rep. J.C. Watts, Chairman of the House Republican Conference. After graduation, DeStefano got a job serving as liaison to outside conservative groups for the House Republican Conference, and when Democrats targeted Rep. Deborah Pryce in 2006, he went to Ohio to run her reelection campaign.
The GOP lost the House — but Pryce squeaked by with a margin of 1,055 votes. Boehner took notice and hired DeStefano to help recruit Republicans to run for the House.
After the Tea Party wave election made Boehner Speaker as head of member services, DeStefano advised tea party members elected in 2010 on how to staff their offices, part of his job was to staff the newly elected Tea Party class of 2010 with Boehner loyalists who would not encourage their new Bosses to rock the boat.
These are the same people DeStefano is now funneling into the Trump administration.
Rein says (and we agree) that the ideal Trump administration applicant wouldn’t have spent much of his career on Capitol Hill as DeStefano has, starting with a college internship.
Or served as political director for former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who embodies the GOP establishment.
Or raised money for House Republicans, then built a data operation used by the Republican National Committee.
But those are the only people in Washington that Mr. DeStefano knows.
To be fair, DeStefano brushes off suggestions that his mainstream political pedigree is a liability. Before Trump, everyone started somewhere, he says.
True, but where you have been is a good indicator of where you are headed, and DeStefano certainly hasn’t been headed in the same direction as outside the-Beltway-America has been headed.
When the White House announced DeStefano’s appointment, CHQ Chairman Richard A Viguerie said, “Those who hoisted the pirate flag and joined the Trump team when he was at 2 percent in the polls . . . must wonder what the devil is going on,” calling the choice a “major impediment” to Trump’s goals.
And it remains so by every indication one can detect in Rein’s article.
DeStefano clearly got the job through the patronage of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Speaker of the House John Boehner.
According to Rein, Priebus, who got to know DeStefano when he was Republican National Committee chairman, called DeStefano two days before Christmas to ask him to come to New York the next day to meet the president-elect’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, at Trump Tower.
DeStefano was then hired and came on board in late January.
When John Boehner’s Chief of Staff Barry Jackson made his move to the private sector he joked, “It’s sort of like ‘Hotel California… A member of Boehnerland is never allowed to leave.”
And as far as we can tell by who is getting appointed to top jobs in the Trump administration Johnny DeStefano hasn’t left Boehnerland.
Johnny DeStefano’s job as Director of White House Personnel isn’t to hire Trump’s loyal outsiders or check the SAT scores of potential hires to make sure the top applicants get the jobs, it isn’t to vet them for their security clearances or potential conflicts of interest – it is to funnel Capitol Hill staffers loyal to the congressional Republican establishment into key jobs in the executive branch, and so far he’s been doing a great job at that.