Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook by hiring his own family members as Senate staffers in an act of nepotism that ethics experts are shaming.

As we all know, Trump hired his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner as White House aides, drawing condemnation for engaging in nepotism.

Well, Cruz is apparently following Trump’s lead by hiring the children of his cousins to positions on his staff over hundreds and, perhaps, thousands of applicants. One of the positions is even paid by taxpayers.

It certainly appears to violate nepotism laws, however, the law somehow doesn’t cover the children of cousins. But ethics experts agree that while what Cruz did is not technically illegal, it violates the spirit of the law.

“We expect our elected officials to act with integrity and to be mindful of how the taxpayer’s money is being spent,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics chief counsel Virginia Canter told Salon. “It looks like basically the taxpayer is subsidizing the training of his relatives.”

After wide criticism, Cruz mouthpiece Erin Perrine complained and accused the media of being “fake news,” which is also part of Trump’s schtick.

“Attacking two young Baylor graduates, for working as an unpaid intern and as a junior staffer, is exactly the kind of political slime job that makes people so disgusted with the corrupt corporate media,” Perrine said. “As the experts you spoke to all agreed, the law is clear, and the senator has appropriately met all of his legal and ethics requirements and is in complete compliance.”

That really doesn’t seem to be the case. Again, Cruz hired the children of his cousins in highly sought-after positions that open doors for them. That’s unethical, especially since taxpayers are being stuck with the salary for one of them.

Criticism additionally poured in via Twitter:

Ted Cruz fled with his family members to Cancun this past winter when a deadly winter storm struck Texas. Now he’s installing family members on his staff and sticking taxpayers with the bill.

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