Attorney Debra D'Agostino Comments on Potential Trump Nepotism
Posted By The Federal Practice Group Worldwide Service || 7-Oct-2016
Would Donald Trump's children play as big a role in his theoretical presidency as they do his campaign? That is the question recently raised by Government Executive following Donald Trump Jr.'s recent public comments proposing he'd have an important role as his father's Interior secretary.
How then would a Trump Presidency deal with federal nepotism laws? Government Executive turned to Attorney Debra D'Agostino for insight on these laws and the leverage an administration might have to bend them. According to her, it may be possible for a president to argue that anti-nepotism statutes, like U.S. Code Title 5, Section 3110, are unconstitutional.
"It has not come up and if Trump were to nominate a relative and someone challenged him, there’s a good chance the statute would be found unconstitutional because of separation of powers concerns," said Attorney D'Agostino. "The check built into the Constitution is that while the president can nominate someone for a Cabinet position, the Senate must approve."
Office of Special Counsel Ambiguity
Attorney D'Agostino also predicted a possible gray area in the position of Office of Special Counsel—a key figure in charge of enforcing crucial employment policies at federal agencies. "Because the Special Counsel is also nominated by the president, [it isn’t clear] given the language of the statute that OSC would have the authority to take a prosecutorial action against the president," she said.
One area where Trump (or any president) would be able to hire family members? White House staff. According to Attorney D'Agostino, U.S. Code Title 3 allows a president to choose anyone to fill those positions. "These people serve at the pleasure of the president, and are often people who worked on the campaign or as close advisors," she told Government Executive. "The president can plug in whomever he or she wants in those positions in his or her inner circle. That’s very different from Cabinet-level positions."
You can read more of 'Might Trump's Hunt-Loving Son Bump Into Federal Nepotism Law?' and Attorney D'Agostino's insight at the Government Executive website.