Nepotism is defined as favoritism shown to relatives by those in power, such as special treatment in hiring.
In Texas it is illegal for public officials to hire, appoint or approve payment for certain relatives. The law determines which relatives are ineligible to receive jobs or payment from public officials. This determination is made based on the degree of blood or ancestral relationship to the public official (consanguinity), or by relationship established through marriage (affinity).
State law specifies that only relationships within the third degree of consanguinity or the second degree of affinity are affected by the nepotism prohibition.
Note: An adopted child is treated as a natural child in determining who is affected by the prohibition.
A public official who violates the nepotism prohibition commits an offense involving official misconduct. The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not less than $100 or more than $1,000.
The degree of consanguinity is determined by the number of generations between the people involved.
An elected official cannot give a job to:
- His or her parent or child (first degree of consanguinity);
- His or her brother, sister, grandparent or grandchild (second degree);
- His or her great-grandparent, great-grandchild, parents’ brother or sister (his or her aunt or uncle), or siblings’ children (his or her nieces and nephews) (third degree).
The first degree of affinity is the relationship between a husband and wife. A relationship by affinity extends only to blood relatives of an individual’s spouse. It does not include a relative-in-law of the individual’s spouse.
Higher degrees of affinity are equal to the degree of consanguinity for the related spouse.
If your spouse is the sibling of a public official (second degree of consanguinity), you would also be considered related through affinity in the second degree.
Other examples of affinity/consanguinity
If a couple has a child, the marital relationship for affinity continues indefinitely, even after a divorce.
Exception: For a position on a board of trustees or an officer of a school district, the relationship continues only until the youngest child of the marriage reaches age 21.
A district judge is further limited in that he or she may not appoint an official stenographer who is related within the third degree (affinity or consanguinity) to the district judge or to the district attorney of the district.
- A relationship by marriage.
- A relationship that shares common bloodlines or descent from a common ancestor.
- Public official
- An officer of this state; or
- An officer or member of a board of this state; or
- A judge of a court created by or under a statute of this state. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has issued an opinion stating that the nepotism law applies only to officials with appointment (hiring) or confirmation power. To find out where the hiring authority lies with specific governmental entities, the OAG generally examines the entity’s enabling law to determine what was established by the Legislature.
- One of two or more individuals having one or both parents in common; a brother or sister.
Texas Government Code Annotated, Sections 573.001 – 573.025, 573.041, 573.043, 573.083, 573.084 (Vernon 2004).