Former Director of the Office
of Government Ethics Walter Shaub
isn't lenient on President Joe Biden
just because he's a Democrat and better on ethics than Donald Trump
. Shaub slammed the president Friday over coveted administration jobs
going to aides' relatives, after candidate Biden had sharply criticized Trump for nepotism
“We’re in big trouble as a country if ‘better than Trump is good enough’ becomes the standard for ethical behavior,” Shaub wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
“We need active measures to counteract the pernicious influence of family
connections, cronyism, and systemic racism
,” he added, adding that “otherwise, implicit bias will undoubtedly result in more appointees from privileged backgrounds, insulated from the needs of the broader public.”
According to Shaub, Biden promised that his children
, unlike Trump's, would never "have offices in the White House
," so it's "troubling" that "so many relatives of top Biden appointees" are landing jobs in his administration.
The Washington Post
reported last week that 11 family members of Biden aides were employed in various administration positions, though the actual number could be higher.
“Whatever Biden meant when he promised a better way, it appears that his administration now interprets that promise as only applying to his [immediate] family,” Shaub wrote.
To be sure, Trump was worse. According to The Daily Beast, Trump's administration not only gave top jobs to his completely politically inexperienced daughter Ivanka Trump
and son-in-law Jared Kushner
, but it also employed multiple members of at least 20 families.
One “egregious” example of nepotism in the Biden administration
is the family of one of Biden’s closest advisers, Steven Ricchetti. Three of Ricchetti’s children work
in the administration, and a fourth child has worked for a member of Congress
for two years, according to Shaub. (Ricchetti’s brother also works as a Washington lobbyist.)
J.J. Ricchetti, Ricchetti's son, "scored a political position in the Treasury Department's legislative affairs office" after just graduating from college
, securing a position that typically requires some noteworthy experience, according to Shaub.
“These are no ordinary entry-level jobs,” he writes, adding that “a political appointment in a Cabinet agency... is a coveted prize that adds sparkle to a résumé,” one pursued by thousands of campaign workers, including countless people
of color who are not politically connected.
“Rather than broadening diversity
, J.J.’s hiring provided the political class with another well-to-do White son of privilege,” Shaub wrote, adding that the Treasury Department will “lack the ideas and experiences that someone with a different background (and probably better qualifications) would have brought to the job.”
“Fixing these flaws is a tall order, and tolerating the appearance of nepotism is no way to demonstrate that we are capable of confronting even our smallest problems,” Shaub warns.
The full op-ed by Shaub can be found here.