Our country relies on a democratic system in which citizens hold the power to elect their own public officials. President Trump undermined this value when he employed his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner in the White House. Throughout the employment process, President Trump has twisted federal ethics regulations to suit his desires. This precedent gives an unfair advantage to relatives of federal officials, presents a threat to national security, and creates yet another conflict of interest within the White House.

The United States Office of Government Ethics, established in 1978, produced a compilation of government ethics standards to ensure the integrity of the executive branch. The employment of Kushner and Ivanka does not technically violate the nepotism standards since they will not be receiving compensation for their work. However, an earlier law passed in 1967 more broadly states that public officials cannot employ a relative to work in their agency. Ethics lawyers, ignoring any sense of morality, once again found a loophole: they have argued that Trump will not be violating this law, as the White House is not, strictly speaking, an agency.

Nepotism aside, business interests often present an even larger conflict of interest. Kushner plans to sell his holdings in common stocks, resign as the head of his family business, and sell his assets to his brother and a blind trust. Ivanka will disassociate herself from her brand and remove herself from her management position in the Trump Organization. Still, Kushner will not be able to sever all connections with his own relatives, and Ivanka will not be able to separate herself from her brand image.

Once Kushner and Ivanka are situated in the White House another, if smaller, problem will arise: they may pose a threat to national security. Though they have absolutely no public service background and minimal training, classified information will be entrusted to them. Regular citizens undergo a vetting process that Ivanka and Kushner will likely bypass. Additionally, there can be no assurance of the quality of their work, and firing them would be difficult since the ramifications extend into personal relations.

Trump has undermined the notion of national equality by giving Ivanka and Kushner an unjust advantage over ordinary citizens. Our country is an independent democracy, not a monarchy, and its workings were designed to prevent heads of state from appointing family members to positions in the federal government.

Ivanka and Kushner will set a new precedent for nepotism in our government as they begin their unpaid positions in the coming weeks. Their compliance with federal ethics legislation is ambiguous and must be monitored over the course of the next four years. Additionally, their business and financial stakes present a classic conflict of interest that will upset the proceedings of our nation. While national security risks in this situation may be marginalized due to their high status, Ivanka and Kushner still have no public security background, which presents an unfortunate new model. The employment of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the White House turns potential exemplars into platforms for inequality throughout the United States.