Kellyanne Conway Urges Viewers to Buy Ivanka Trump’s Merchandise — Did She Violate Code of Ethics?
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway used a morning interview from the White House on Thursday, Feb. 9, to publicly endorse products from Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.
During her interview, which appeared on the Thursday morning edition of Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” Conway encouraged viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” a highly questionable move that may violate the federal law.
“This is just wonderful line,” she said of Ivanka’s merchandise. “I own some of it. I fully — I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
Members of the Trump administration are no strangers to using their platforms to push the Trump brand(s), but what Conway did this morning appears to be illegal, according to rules laid out by the Office of Government Ethics. As reported by New York Magazine, the statue prohibits a government employee — which Conway is — from “using his public office for his own private gain; for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise. “It also outlaws the private gain of friends, relatives or persons affiliated with said employee.
Although Conway’s personal “commercial” pushing Ivanka’s brand was a clear violation of the law, there’s no word on whether or not she’ll be punished. The Washington Post reported that enforcement for such a violation is usually handled by whichever government agency that employee belongs to.
“Enforcement measures are largely left to the head of the federal agency — in Conway’s case, the White House,” The Washington Post stated. “One lawyer said a typical executive-branch employee who violated the rule could face significant disciplinary action, including a multi-day suspension and loss of pay.”
White House officials said Thursday that Conway has since been “counseled” for her actions.
The on-air debacle comes just days after President Donald Trump lashed out at retailers Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus for pulling his daughter’s merchandise from their shelves.
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
The high-end department stores said the the brand’s poor performance is ultimately what prompted them to drop Ivanka’s clothing, shoe and jewelry lines, negating rumors that the move was a political jab at the president.
Discount fashion stores TJ Maxx and Marshall’s also have joined the list of retailers giving Ivanka’s line the cold shoulder. The companies haven’t completely done away with her brand but announced they’ll instead market it differently by mixing her name-brand apparel in with other brands on the rack, rather than have them stand alone.
“Effective immediately, please remove all Ivanka Trump merchandise from features and mix into the runs,” read a company memo to employees obtained by The New York Times. “All Ivanka Trump signs should be discarded.”
The Ivanka Trump brand has yet to comment on the retailers’ move.