The Office of Governmental Ethics on Thursday hammered the White House’s decision not to discipline Kellyanne Conway for promoting Ivanka Trump’s merchandise in a TV interview.
In a letter sent to deputy White House counsel Stefan Passantino, Office of Governmental Ethics Director Walter Shaub voiced grave concern over the Trump administration’s decision to forgo punishment for Conway’s “free commercial,” saying the move “risks undermining the ethics program.”
Of more concern, Shaub said, is the White House’s repeated claim that officials in the president’s office are not subject to the same ethics rules that apply to other government officials.
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) March 9, 2017
“I am more concerned about the extraordinary assertion that ‘many’ of OGE’s regulations are inapplicable to employees of the Executive Office of the President. The assertion is incorrect and the letter cites no legal basis for it,” he continued. “Presidential administrations have not considered it appropriate to challenge the applicability of ethics rules to the entire executive branch.”
During an interview on “Fox & Friends” last month — days after Nordstrom announced it would no longer carry Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing accessories — Conway urged viewers to buy products from the first daughter’s fashion line.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I would tell you. I hate shopping but I’m going to go get some for myself today. I’m going to give it a free commercial here, go buy it today.”
The remarks immediately drew backlash from Democrats and Republicans alike, many of whom pointed to the incident as a clear violation of an ethics rule barring government officials from using their positions to promote or endorse products.