Latest Posts





County Attorney’s Hiring of Son Raises Nepotism Controversy

By now you’d think that nepotism policies guarding against favoritism in hiring of family members would be standard procedure in government. But St. Louis County belatedly adopted a nepotism provision this week, following a prolonged controversy stirred up County Attorney Mark Rubin and closely followed by the Duluth News Tribune and other media.

One member of the public addressed the board Tuesday. Allen Richardson said he represented a newly formed anti-nepotism task force.

“It’s my opinion that respect has to be earned by public officials,” he said. “The reason that this policy is before you today is that Mark Rubin’s hiring decision, while not illegal, is widely perceived as having been immoral and unethical by the residents of St. Louis County.”

Richardson gestured to his T-shirt, which read: “I didn’t ask for a Rubin Sandwich.”

Shortly after running unopposed in winning his third term last November, Rubin hired his son Tony as a prosecutor over several candidates with longer resumes. The public outcry forced the county board to belatedly take action, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

The policy, which aims to combat “actual or perceived conflicts of interest,” reads in part: “No employee or official shall be directly involved in any decision regarding hiring, promotion, supervision, salary adjustments or grievances made regarding an immediate family member or significant other in the same line of authority.”

Hard to argue with a policy that brings St. Louis County into line with standard practice in business and government. Yet one commissioner, Keith Nelson, came close, blaming his constituents and the media for forcing the issue.

“We as elected officials should not have targets placed on our backs just because we chose to be sworn in,” he said. “For individuals in the press or in the audience who don’t have respect for elected officials, I feel sorry for you. I really do. Because this democracy is founded on a lot of things, and one of them is mutual respect.”

But one of Nelson’s colleagues also laid it on the line, acknowledging the public’s concerns were well founded.

[Commissioner Frank] Jewell said the County Board is taking action not because it wants to target elected officials but because it’s responding to many calls and emails from constituents about the issue.

“(They’re) sending emails and have called me and said, ‘Why did you’ — and they’re very direct — ‘Why did you allow a situation in which you can hire your family members?’” Jewell said. “So whether or not this affects the action that took place, it’s really appropriate for us to stand up and say we have a policy that says we won’t hire family members, etc., if we are the direct supervisor.”

The new policy isn’t retroactive, but the verdict is in on the St. Louis County Attorney’s controversial hiring process.




Upcoming Events

  • Lunch Forum with Amity Shlaes

    Location: Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403

    Buy tickets HERE. About This Event: Enjoy our Early Bird Ticket Special through February 23rd! After this date, ticket price will increase to $30. Doors open at 11:30 AM, program and lunch begin at Noon. In Great Society, the New York Times bestselling author of The Forgotten Man and Coolidgeoffers a stunning revision of our last great period of idealism, the 1960s, with burning relevance for our contemporary challenges. Today, a battle rages in our country. Many Americans are attracted to socialism and economic redistribution while opponents of those ideas argue for purer capitalism. In the 1960s, Americans sought the…

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota Breakfast Series: Moorhead

    Location: Moorhead Country Club 2101 North River Drive, Moorhead, MN, 56560

    Join Center of the American Experiment Friday, February 21 at the Moorhead Country Club for a FREE breakfast with policy fellow Isaac Orr.

    Register Now
  • 2020 Annual Dinner Featuring Sarah Huckabee Sanders

    Location: Minneapolis Convention Center Ballroom 1301 2nd Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55403

    American President: The Unorthodox Approach to Politics that Changed the World. Sarah Huckabee Sanders served as White House Press Secretary for President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to 2019. A trusted confidant of the President, Sanders advised him on everything from press and communications strategy to personnel and policy. For two and a half years, Sanders was at the President’s side, battling with the media, working with lawmakers and CEOs, and staffing the President on every foreign trip, including dozens of meetings with foreign leaders. Sanders is only the third woman and the first mother to hold the job of…

    Register Now