A former Butler Twp. trustee who joined the Trump administration after working on the president’s campaign has been highlighted by two national publications as having questionable qualifications as a political appointee.
In response to the criticism, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that Nick Brusky is qualified for his position as a confidential assistant in the Foreign Agriculture Service, an agency with the mission of finding export opportunities for U.S. agriculture.
USDA Spokeswoman Michawn Rich said “all of the appointees have skills applicable to the roles they fill at USDA.”
“Much in the same way previous administrations have done, the USDA worked with the Presidential Personnel Office to place Schedule C appointees where they could be most helpful to the mission of the department,” Rich said by email, recycling a statement USDA has used previously with other media when questioned about Brusky.
Brusky moved to Washington, D.C., in January after resigning as a trustee. He declined to comment for this article.
Current and former Republican state lawmakers interviewed by the Dayton Daily News defended Brusky.
Former state Rep. Jim Buchy, R-Greenville, said he got to know Brusky when he worked in the Ohio House Republican Caucus.
“Nick was very reliable, very loyal and did a good job,” Buchy said. “All I can tell you is he’s got on-the-job experience and qualifications that doesn’t have a darn thing to do with a college education for crying out loud.”
Federal Schedule C appointees range from schedulers and confidential assistants to policy experts, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition. There are more than 1,400 appointee positions in the federal government for confidential or policy roles, according to the center.
Previously, Brusky’s biography on the Butler Twp. website indicated he worked as a truck driver, having previously worked as a truck broker for NAX Transportation and as a legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives. He also served for seven years as a councilman in Amherst.
Brusky served as an Ohio field representative for Trump’s presidential campaign.
A September article by the news outlet Politico reviewed several dozen resumes of USDA political appointees and singled-out Brusky and two other confidential assistants as having questionable qualifications for the role.
Politico reported Brusky was hired “at one of the highest levels on the federal government’s pay scale, a GS-12, earning $79,720 annually.”
“Though that pay grade requires a master’s degree or equivalent experience, it’s not clear from Brusky’s resume whether he’s a college graduate,” the Politico report said. “The document lists coursework in business management and political science at three universities from 2000 to 2013, but does not specify a graduation date.”
Politico’s report said Brusky’s resume “shows he has no experience in cultivating international markets for trade goods, though he notes he has experience ‘hauling and shipping agricultural commodities.’”
Politico reviewed the records after they were obtained through records request by the group American Oversight. The nonpartisan group has hired several former Obama-era government officials and says it “does the job that Congress refuses to do, exposing unethical conduct throughout this administration and demanding investigations.”
Earlier this month, Brusky again returned to the spotlight when he was mentioned in a Washington Post column by opinion writer Dana Milbank, whose inside-the-front-page writings occupy prime newspaper real estate.
The column held up Brusky as one of the “best” Trump hires, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the president’s campaign promise to “hire the best people.”
State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said Brusky is “a true believer in what he is doing.”
“I think it’s completely unfair what the national press has said,” Antani said. “Nick is extremely smart and extremely hardworking and extremely clever.”