Biden's Hiring of Staffers' Relatives Questioned by Ethics Experts The daughter of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Bruce Reed (above) recently brought in to be President Joe Biden's day scheduler. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
By Jeffrey Rodack | Tuesday, 18 May 2021 10:14 AM
Ethics officials are raising questions after the spouses and children of several top aides to President Joe Biden have been hired in myriad roles throughout his administration.
The Washington Examiner said the experts noted it doesn’t appear Biden has broken any rules in hiring or nominating staffers' relatives, but they said he should avoid the perception of conflicts of interest when filling the positions and proceed with caution.
Politico reported Julia Reed, the daughter of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Bruce Reed, was recently brought in as Biden's day scheduler after spending 2 years as an advance site lead for the Biden campaign.
Politico also noted that Shannon Ricchetti, the daughter of longtime Biden adviser Steve Ricchetti, is serving as deputy associate director of the Office of the Social Secretary at the White House. And Steve Ricchetti’s son, Daniel, is a senior adviser in the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
The Examiner reported that White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain's wife, Monica Medina, was nominated last month to become assistant secretary of Biden's State Department Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Science Affairs.
Medina is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and a founder of an e-newsletter on conservation and the environment, Axios reported.
But just because it's not unheard of for relatives of current White House staffers to join an administration in some capacity, it doesn't mean the practice should be overlooked.
"It should be addressed to ensure that conflicts of interest don't become equally normalized,” Scott Amey, the general counsel of the nonpartisan Project On Government Oversight, told the Examiner. "The ethics system, however, requires disclosure and firewalls to ensure that cozy relationships don't interfere with government business. Sometimes, that system works well, and at times it doesn't, which is why so many people question the integrity of the government and our senior leaders.”
Ethics scholar Steven Mintz said it's important for familial connections to not aid in an applicant's hiring or in determining the person's salary level.
"If a public official hires a family member to serve in an advisory [role], they should be the most qualified and not gain monetarily, beyond the usual salary, and the public official should not have anything to do with their performance evaluation," he said.
Jeff Hauser, whose Revolving Door Project examines executive employees, called the White House staff moves legal but "worrisome."
He said such decisions are one of the reasons many people are skeptical of "whether the government is acting on behalf of everyone or some broad vision of what's right.”