As the hullabaloo surrounding the “Get a job!” comment from Congressman Bill Young subsides, a better perspective of the moment in question is coming into focus.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that the incident that was rapidly uploaded to YouTube was nothing less than a campaign hatchet job undertaken by an individual with an extensive criminal record — and a record of little else.
Bill Young was not telling the minimum-wage earners or the unemployed or the working poor to get a job, he was telling Andrew ‘Pepe’ Kovanis, the man accosting by thrusting an iPhone into his face, to get a job because Young recognized him as a campaign prop determined to do exactly what he did: manipulate one sentence out of fifty-year career in public service.
In case you missed what happened, Kovanis man confronted Rep. Young at a Fourth of July event in Paradise Island where Young dedicated a mural.
“Jesse Jackson, Jr., is passing a bill around to increase minimum wage to ten bucks an hour. Do you support that?” Kovanis asked the congressman.
“How about getting a job?” Young responded.
When Kovanis told Young he did have a job, Young said, “Well, then why do you want that benefit? Get a job.”
Actually, as Curtis Krueger reported, Kovanis doesn’t have a job, per se. He is self-employed and pays himself $8.50 in a new business he started called Edible Gardens.
Asked later if it was misleading for him to complain about the low wages he pays himself, Kovanis said no, because he previously worked for $8.50 per hour at a health food store.
Perhaps Kovanis has had trouble holding a job that pays more than minimum wage because of long criminal record — a record that shows Kovanis is actually a professional protester and rabble-rouser.
In October of 2006, Kovanis was charged with unlawful use of driver’s license, violating the probation he was on for an earlier charge of felony criminal mischief. He violated this probation again in 2007.
2007 wasn’t a good year for Kovanis, who was arrested that year for DUI and possession of marijuana. That was his second DUI — the first he committed in 2004.
After these difficult years, Kovanis got swept up in the Occupy movement and was arrested in 2011 for obstructing a sidewalk.
Kovanis was well-known to those with Young on July 4. They had run into Kovanis during protests outside of Young’s office and at a ceremony for for fallen officers in Clearwater in May. Kovanis had not been a problem before, in fact, as a Republican activist point out, “If the left really wants the poster child of their efforts this fall to be a miscreant with multiple arrests for drug possession, obstruction, DUI, and violation of probation, well then this should be a fun campaign. We couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to highlight our differences.”
So, yes, Bill Young did say “Get a job” — but it was directed to a professional protester with a criminal record whose fifteen minutes of fame have about run out.