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In Politics, No One Can Call You Out Like Your Family

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., presides over a hearing in June. Goodlatte's son, Bobby, has publicly criticized his father and urged his followers to donate to a Democrat running for his father's seat.
Joshua Roberts
Bloomberg via Getty Images
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., presides over a hearing in June. Goodlatte's son, Bobby, has publicly criticized his father and urged his followers to donate to a Democrat running for his father's seat.

Bobby Goodlatte took to Twitter on Sunday to promote the congressional campaign of Jennifer Lewis, a Democrat running for Congress in Virginia's 6th Congressional District. Lewis is running on a platform that includes a $15 minimum wage, stricter gun control measures and tuition-free college.

And she is running to fill the seat held by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. — Bobby's father.

"I just gave the maximum allowed donation to Jennifer Lewis, a democrat running for my father's congressional seat," the younger Goodlatte tweeted. "I've also gotten 5 other folks to commit to donate the max. 2018 is the year to flip districts — let's do this!"

While the younger Goodlatte has celebrated the response to his initial tweet, he hasn't stopped at soliciting donations for Lewis.

Shortly after news broke Monday that the FBI had fired former special agent Peter Strzok, Bobby Goodlatte slammed his father for "political grandstanding" and accused him of ruining Strzok's career while praising the embattled former agent as a "patriot."

He also referred to Strzok's appearance before the House Judiciary Committee last month as a "low point for Congress." (Bobby Goodlatte hasn't responded to NPR's request for comment on his tweets. Neither has his father's office.)

The elder Goodlatte and other House Republicans have made Strzok a central target of their investigation into so-called anti-Trump bias at the Justice Department and the FBI, and their hearing — during which Bob Goodlatte threatened to hold Strzok in contempt of Congress after just one question was asked — drew criticism from House Democrats and former Justice Department officials.

Bobby's split from his father is just one of several family political conflicts that have recently gone public.

Take top White House aide Stephen Miller. The hard-line immigration adviser received his own public drubbing on Monday via a Politico column carrying this headline: "Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I'm His Uncle."

In the piece, Dr. David S. Glosser recounts the journey of Miller's own immigrant relatives from what is now Belarus to Pennsylvania while mounting a critique of the immigration policies championed by his nephew.

"I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family's life in this country," Glosser wrote.

The Trump administration has continuously pushed for stricter immigration policies, and Miller was reportedly a key architect of the administration's policy separating children from their families at the Southern U.S. border.

Glosser goes on to call for "compassion and wisdom" in working toward overhauling the nation's immigration laws, adding that "the politicians who have based their political and professional identity on ethnic demonization and exclusion cannot be trusted to do so."

The White House has not responded to NPR's request for comment on Glosser's piece.

Another top Trump administration official, Kellyanne Conway, has experienced her own familial political differences, albeit in a much quieter fashion.

The Twitter feed of her husband, attorney George Conway, is littered with retweets of stories critical of President Trump and his administration interspersed with his own critiques of Trump's actions, including the president's claim that special counsel Robert Mueller's appointment is "unconstitutional" and his assertion that Ohio Gov. John Kasich is "very unpopular."

A member of the conservative Federalist Society, Conway was in the running for a top Justice Department post in the early months of the Trump administration, but he withdrew his name from consideration last summer.

When asked by Politico to explain his tweets, George Conway declined, saying only that "If I wanted to say anything publicly, I would just say it."

(For her part, Kellyanne Conway sparred with CNN's Dana Bash when asked about her husband's tweets, asserting Bash wouldn't have posed the question if she were talking to a husband about his wife.)

The public political differences between family members aren't solely limited to those working in the Trump administration, either.

John Rice-Cameron was described by Stanford Politics as the university's "most outspoken political provocateur," has been the president of the Stanford College Republicans, and worked last year to host Turning Points USA's Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens at a campus event.

He is also known on campus as the son of Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser and U.N. ambassador during the Obama administration.

Rice-Cameron told The College Fix earlier this year that while he and his mother disagree on many issues, the two share similar views of public service.

"She has always set an example of principle, entering public service for the right reasons — because you care, because you want to serve your country," he said.

In an interview with Stanford Politics, Rice echoed her son, noting that the two share a belief in America having a strong presence internationally and a passion for civil rights.

"Jake, like me, is an African-American and of mixed parentage," Rice told the publication. "And he understands, as I do, the importance of the equality of rights for all. That's an area where we share a strong commitment."

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Brandon Carter is an assistant producer on NPR's Washington Desk. He manages the NPR Politics social media accounts, writes and produces stories for the web and writes for the NPR Politics weekly newsletter.