(June 8, 2018) Like many others who have spent time in the White House, Kevin Chmielweski’s story of the past two years is a whirlwind.
For Chmielewski, it started during the April 2016 Trump campaign stop at Stephen Decatur High School, when he was pulled up on stage by the candidate, who called him a “star” and a “gem.”
He was working as a member of the advance team, which sets things up in anticipation of a candidate’s arrival, and makes certain travel arrangements. Chmielewski was no stranger to this type of work, having already worked in this capacity for Gov. Rick Scott of Texas before he became the Secretary of Energy, candidate Mitt Romney, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former President George W. Bush and several others.
Now, a little more than two years later, he’s said he’s left Washington D.C. behind, and has returned to the coast as one of the managers of West Ocean City’s Sunset Grille.
While his living situation has changed, some other things haven’t.
“I’m dyed in the wool Republican. I’m the biggest Republican ever,” he said.
And his thoughts on the man he worked so hard to get into office?
“I’d run through a brick wall for him. Right here, right now,” he said.
Chmielewski, 39, is married to Brianna and has two daughters Kailea, 4, and Braelyn, 1.
After President Trump was elected, Chmielewski continued his advance duties for Vice President Mike Pence and, for a time, the Department of Homeland Security.
He was working under Gen. John Kelly, who was about six months removed from being named White House Chief of Staff.
“Anyone who knows Gen. Kelly knows he doesn’t sleep,” he said.
So about four months into it, Chmielewski was offered a position at the Environmental Protection Agency doing the same work, but for more money and hopefully, shorter hours. Chmielewski’s family remained on the lower shore, and didn’t get to see him much, he said. Moving to the EPA would provide him more time to spend with his wife and children.
“That’s what I like about President Trump — he’s not a politician, and as a new father I loved to watch him around his kids,” he said. He said the president’s children all adored Donald Trump, and none of them drank, smoked or did drugs, which Chmielewski contended wasn’t an easy example to set when growing up wealthy.
Growing up on the shore as a child of divorced parents, Chmielewski said he realized his children were being raised the same way as he was, more or less without a father, so he said he was happy to accept the reduced role at the EPA.
However, it wasn’t long before he noticed some of the behaviors EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt is currently being investigated for, and alerted the president’s personnel office.
Chmielewski said he was concerned about Pruitt’s security detail, which he said rivals that of the president himself, and the lavish travel arrangements required by his new boss.
“It’s all from me,” Chmielewski said of the investigations. “Scott Pruitt is a criminal.”
While he may have left Washington D.C. behind for now, he hasn’t left politics behind.
“There are more politics here than in Washington D.C. anyway,” he said.
Chmielewski has agreed to manage Scott Bernal’s bid for Worcester County Sheriff.
“I could have gone anywhere,” he said. Offers come in all the time to interview here or there, or to contribute to this or that, but he said he wanted to return home to be with his family and to help a man who had helped him so much in the past.
“I was a knucklehead kid, getting all Cs and Ds at school and had dreadlocks,” he said. “It’s not a secret.”
Chmielewski met the neighbor of his best friend, Scott Bernal, about 30 years ago.
“My best friend’s parents were also divorced. We went over to Scott’s every day,” he said. “He’s one of the best men I’ve known in my life.”
To pay him back for his support during some difficult years, Chmielewski said he wanted to use whatever recognition he’s achieved to help Bernal get into office.
“I want to use this small, little power I have to be a catalyst for Scott to achieve what he wants,” he said. “If I use my one second of fame to help him, it’ll be worth it.”