(I am not finished with this post, these are some of my questions at the moment, but I thought I’d publish it for now, until I have time to do some research to answer some of my thoughts.)

Stephenson, E. (1/13/17).  After Trump tweet, ethics office to U.S. employees: do not endorse products, Reuters, Yahoo! News, (

Any lawyers out there?  Is Trump (illegally) above the law, or do said ethics laws only apply to other government employees and not to the president?  Either way, I disapprove.

I’m trying to find a good clip or visual to illustrate my point, those training videos many of us have had to take.  You’ve probably heard the basics.  (in no particular order)

1) nepotism – Do not hire someone related to you.

1b) in that vein, “sweethearting” – don’t sell things at a discount to family and friends

2) separation of work and politics (i.e. lobbying) – don’t campaign for/against politicians at work, don’t distribute pamphlets etc.

3) gifts – do not give or receive gifts (meals, etc., i.e. lobbying) from coworkers that exceed $50

4) conflict of interest – you can’t work at one company if you also work at another company that might have a conflict of interest…i.e. working for a vendor and a company that hires that vendor**, or having a personal financial interest conflict

5) insider information

6) revolving door

7) don’t wear or advertise other logos, products, etc.

as well as personal ethics and behavioral standards:

8) do not discriminate (in hiring, etc.) on the basis of race, ethnicity, age, religion, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation***

9) no harassment – emotional, verbal, physical, sexual – i.e. don’t intentionally hurt people, don’t touch people without their consent, and attempt to respect everyone


What I would then like to determine is to which degree these are federal laws, state laws, or none of the above and either “just” common sense guidelines or employer-specific rules.  To which degree are these laws that government employees/civil servants must follow, but private industry employees do not – though their employers may echo similar rules.  If these are laws that all government employees must follow, to what degree are some governmental officials – i.e. the president – exempt, and are they actually exempt? and if so, why?

As for the case of nepotism, journalists on NPR, a couple weeks ago, were debating loopholes about how it would be illegal for Trump to hire his son-in-law for position x, but legal, loophole-wise, for him to hire his son-in-law for position y.  Why?  (i.e. “you can’t be a cabinet member, but you can be an advisor”)

Are other ethical rules “just” suggestions rather than law, such as Trump putting personal businesses into a blind trust?

If these aren’t laws, why and can we make them laws?  If they are laws, why is Trump exempt?  and so on.


**St. Clair, S., & Cohen, J. (4/17/15). College of DuPage backers with exclusive deals rake in millions, Chicago Tribune, (

*** Currently federal law prohibits discrimination against race, ethnicity, religion, and gender, “race, color, religion, national origin, or sex” (Civil Rights Act 1964), then added a provision for no discrimination due to age (Age Discrimination in Employment 1967).  1978 a provision against discrimination due to/related to pregnancyDisabilities, 1990.  And, 2008, a law to prevent discrimination against someone related to their genetic information.  But there  does not appear to be a law prohibiting discrimination according to sexual orientation/LGBT.  The latter was only made law as one of Obama’s executive orders, and can therefore more easily be overturned [cite].

Related Links:

*Condon, B., & Bykowicz, J. (1/23/17). Lawsuit: Trump business ties violate Constitution, Yahoo News!, Associated Press, (

*A code of ethics for public service officials from United Nations Public Administration Network, though this one specifically cites the Philippines (

*OGE: United States Office of Government Ethics, YouTube page (

*workplace ethics videos:
—–DuPont Solutions

*Folkenflik, D. (11/18/16). The Rise of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s Son-In-Law, Morning Edition, NPR,  (

*Laws Enforced by EEOC, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (



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