New Chief of Staff in the Department of Energy Is a Family Member of Trump
President Donald Trump has hired Kyle Yunaska to handle the duties of Chief of Staff of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy. Yunaska is the brother-in-law of President Trump’s third son, Eric Trump.
One guarantee when a new president wins an election and takes residence in the White House is that not every decision that the president makes will be praised. History shows this to be true, regardless of whether the president is Republican or Democratic.
Trump’s decision to hire Yunaska is one of those instances in which both the general public and individuals who work in politics are shaking their heads. The decision is not being scrutinized just because Yunaska is Eric Trump’s brother-in-law, but rather because Yunaska has no experience in the energy sector.
Another concern for the public is that they don’t know what Trump has on his agenda in terms of the energy sector. For example, it is unclear if Trump will continue with some or all of the initiatives of the energy department that were put in place by the Barack Obama administration.
Let’s take a look at what the job duties entail, and compare them to Kyle Yunaska’s resume. There is a possibility that President Trump sees some skills or background that the public may not notice at first. This could be due to Trump’s background as a businessman in the real estate sector, understanding different personalities and skill levels.
Responsibilities of the Chief of Staff of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis
As chief of staff of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis, Yunaska will advise the Department of Energy’s Executive Director Sean Cunningham and his deputy Carol Battershell on energy matters. Further, as the Chief Operating Officer, Yunaska will also be responsible for all budget, human resources, and administrative operations for the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.
In addition, Yunaska will have to deal with the rules and procedures that have been put in place regarding climate change and its impact on the country and the world. This relates to the use of coal, nuclear power, and other forms of energy production. Part of that responsibility could include a change toward clean energy, which has more upfront capital costs but results in less harm to the environment.
To summarize the chief of staff position, it requires a lot of decision-making on an executive level. Prior experience would be the attribute that brings the most value to the position. With this being said, let’s go through Yunaska’s work and educational experience.
Kyle Yunaska’s Resume
Kyle Yunaska graduated from East Carolina University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in management and physics. He continued his education at the university by also completing his master of business administration (MBA) there in 2009.
After finishing his undergrad and master’s degree, he entered the workforce. Yunaska worked at Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE:MTN) for one year. Then he moved on to working for the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, as an accounting manager. Next, Yunaska changed his employer once again and started working for Georgetown University as a tax analyst.
When Trump took his position in the White House, he began forming his teams and filling the positions that were required. He hired Kyle Yunaska as an assistant to the secretary in the Department of Energy in February 2017. His new position as chief of staff is a promotion.
Yunaska was part of the “beachhead” team, which is composed of temporary political appointees. Other members of the team included Daniel Simmons (who was vice president for policy for the Koch brothers-funded Institute for Energy Research) and Travis Fisher (an economist, also with the Institute for Energy Research). Both of them had career experience in the energy sector.
Was Appointing Yunaska the Right Move by President Trump?
Based on his educational background, Yunaska would not meet the mark of becoming the chief of staff of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis. This is simply because of his lack of experience in the energy sector. Yunaska spent his years studying business in college. After school, he entered the workforce in positions in the business divisions of private and public companies, none of which were in the energy industry.
This selection does not seem to be a great one by President Trump. There are individuals who were selected for the “beachhead” team who are much more qualified than Yunaska.
Was Hiring Yunaska as Chief of Staff of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis a Strategic Move?
President Trump is a very strong-minded individual; when he believes in something, he wants to see it come to fruition. Since Yunaska is not qualified for his position, it seems that Trump is putting someone in a high-ranking position based on personal trust, and is bypassing the experience aspect.
This makes perfect sense, since Trump has the opposite views of Obama and his administration, especially on energy and the environment. Trump might enact dramatic changes in energy policy. Also, since Trump and Yunaska have a family relationship, Yunaska could act as Trump’s eyes and ears in the energy department.
One clue leading to this theory is the hiring of Sean Cunningham. Previously, he was a lobbyist who helped develop a coal subsidy and a nuclear power program. Since Trump wants these types of programs to expand, Yunaska, as chief of staff, will ensure that all energy policy goals and desires are met.
Is This Move a Surprise?
Trump is known for giving high-ranking positions within his administration to family members. This is not surprising, since his family was standing by him through Trump’s ups and down on the campaign trail during the 2016 presidential election.
For instance, Trump’s daughter Ivanka works as an advisor to the president. Her husband (which makes him Trump’s son-in-law) Jared Kushner works as a senior advisor to the president. Both Kushner and Ivanka Trump do not earn a salary for their duties.
Kyle Yunaska has now been added to the list of family members working in the Trump administrative team. Yunaska joined the Trump family when his sister Lara married Eric Trump in 2014.