The White House recently announced that Ivanka Trump will become an official federal employee, serving as adviser to her father. She joins her husband, Jared Kushner, who is a White House senior adviser to the President. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Ivanka already had an office in the West Wing and has been attending important meetings (as well as sharing what are arguably inappropriate pictures, like one picture of her sitting in the President’s chair while meeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau).
What is nepotism?
Nepotism is favoritism based on family relationships – for example, when someone in power gives another person a job just because that person is a relative or a friend.
Are there laws against this?
Yes. Congress passed a law against nepotism in 1967. The law says that a public official cannot appoint relatives (including sons-in-law, like Kushner) to their office. When so many people are qualified to serve in Ivanka’s and Jared’s positions, hiring both of them merely because they are related to the President is a clear violation of the nepotism laws.
Is Ivanka’s appointment legal?
Not really. Since 1967, this practice has been illegal. After President John F. Kennedy appointed his brother as Attorney General, Congress decided to put an end to nepotism.
President Trump’s administration claims that the White House is exempted from this law. However, nowhere in the statute we see such an exception. In fact, the law directly mentions the President and says that the law applies to the President.
Let’s not forget that nepotism is a common trait of despots and tyrants. Tyrants put their relatives in positions of power because they can’t trust anyone else to protect them and allow them to commit the atrocities they want to commit.
What will happen next?
If a lawsuit is brought in federal court, we can hope a judge will rule that the appointment of Jared and Ivanka are violations of federal law. In that case, both of them would have to resign.
Otherwise, our government will keep being run by one single family… along with their conflicts of interest.