A First Daughter's New Job: Ivanka Trump’s Strange Role in the White House

Ivanka Trump now has a desk in the Oval Office. She has taken an unpaid adviser position allowing her to work alongside her father. Never before has a First Daughter been given working privileges and security clearance to advise Presidential policy in the White House. While her "government position" may be novel, it is also legally problematic.

Federal law bans having family members in the Cabinet. This would mean that Ivanka’s new position is illegal. However, Trump lawyers say they have found a loophole allowing nepotism. They claim that although she has been given security clearance, Ivanka Trump’s position falls within the "advisory category," and therefore, it is actually not official government employment.

There's been no ruling on whether or not this interpretation is lawful. And there has not been a call to have one issued. Without a system of checks and balances being enforced with regard to the First Family, Ms. Trump has been traveling the world as a sort of "women's representative" speaking for the White House and defending her father's treatment of women in the workforce. The problem is that she has numerous business holdings and trademarks all over the world that benefit her companies, products, name and likeness, and ultimately her personal finances. The chance of a conflict of interest arising in her government role is high, if a conflict has not already arisen.

The Ethics Commission has been oddly silent about the family advisory positions assumed by Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. Normally, there would have been a demand for a public accounting of business ties to eliminate the conflicts. But the First Daughter's employment prospects have been treated with kid gloves.

While Hillary Clinton used her role First Lady to work on health care legislation, there was never any indication that she had a personal, financial interest in hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies or any aspects of health care and treatment. Ivanka has shoe, jewelry, and clothing lines with many products produced overseas. She received dozens of trademarks from China after her father took office. The Administration should be willing to address how she can maintain a role visiting with heads of state of foreign nations where her companies do business, and effectively avoid a financial conflict of interest. But without pressure or accountability, the job remains active. Without more oversight, Ivanka will be open to continued criticism as she endeavors to seek an enhanced role in this administration.

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