With White House aides like these, who needs advertising?
Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared to violate federal law Thursday in defending the First Daughter against a burgeoning boycott of her fashion line — urging Americans to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.”
“I hate shopping, and I’m going to go get some myself today,” the counselor to the President told the hosts of “Fox and Friends.” “It’s a wonderful line; I own some of it … I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
Conway’s generous plug came one day after President Trump griped on Twitter that Nordstrom — which announced last week it would phase out Ivanka Trump’s brand due to waning sales — had treated his daughter “unfairly.”
“I do find it ironic that you’ve got some executives all over the internet bragging about what they’ve done to her and her line, and yet they’re using the most prominent woman in Donald Trump’s, you know, most prominent …” Conway added. “She’s his daughter, and they’re using her, who’s been a champion for women empowerment, women in the workplace, to get to him.”
President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway looks on in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon in Arlington.
(Olivier Douliery / POOL/EPA)
The veteran pollster-turned-public official appeared to have flouted an Office of Government Ethics regulation governing federal employees’ “use of public office for private gain.”
“An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member, and persons with whom the employee has or seeks employment or business relations,” reads the rule.
By Thursday afternoon, the ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had filed complaints with the OGE and White House Counsel’s Office.
“The law is clear that public officials should not use their offices for their own private gain or the private gain of others,” the nonprofit’s executive director, Noah Bookbinder, said in a statement. “It’s hard to find a clearer case of that kind of misuse of office than we saw today.”
The group also argued that Conway, in the interview, had been “unquestionably was acting in her official capacity.”
“She was introduced as ‘special counselor to President of the United States, Kellyanne Conway, who joins us today from the briefing room,’ and the White House seal is clearly visible behind her during the interview,” the group said in its letter.
And Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, called for committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to refer Conway for “potential disciplinary action.”
“This appears to be a textbook violation of government ethics laws and regulations enacted to prevent the abuse of an employee’s government position,” Cummings wrote in a letter. “Since the Committee has direct jurisdiction over the ethics laws applicable to White House employees, I request that the Committee make an official referral of this matter to the Office of Government Ethics and request that it report back to the Committee as soon as possible with its findings.”
President Trump, accompanied by his daughter Ivanka, waves as they walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
Just as with the President’s Wednesday morning tweet, Conway’s shilling spawned a Twitter furor over potential conflict of interest.
Harvard constitutional expert Laurence Tribe — who, along with former Obama ethics czar Norm Eisen and other legal experts, filed a lawsuit on behalf of CREW last month claiming Trump had violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause — tweeted that Conway’s free ad “isn’t just gross & unethical but it’s illegal.”
“Valid fed regs (5 CFR 2635.702) forbid using your fed office to endorse or promote any private product or service,” Tribe wrote in back-to-back tweets. “No exception is made for sassy ways of giving the laws and rules the middle finger.”
A White House spokesperson and reps from the OGE and House Oversight Committee did not immediately return the Daily News’ request for comment on Conway’s remarks.
“Reminder that you are paying @KellyannePolls’s salary,” tweeted CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who’d sparred with Conway two days earlier in a grueling interview about the White House’s falsehoods.