Kellyanne Conway got in trouble for plugging Ivanka Trump’s merchandise during an interview, but as it turned out, Ivanka didn’t need her help. Since her father won the election, Ivanka’s brand has surged, hitting record sales in 2017 even with the boycotts against her line. In fact, the imports coming to the U.S. (mostly Chinese) for her line rocketed 166% compared to this time last year. They’ve even applied for nine new trademarks.
These new trademarks could eventually land her in trouble, now that she is working in the White House. Conflict-of-interest laws prohibit federal officials from partaking in government business that could influence their financial holdings, or their spouse’s. If Ivanka’s brand is getting bigger, it makes any dealings with trade, currency, intellectual property, or importing illegal to discuss with President Trump.
“Put the business on hold and stop trying to get trademarks while you’re in government,” counseled Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer under Bush.
But it’s already too late to head that warning. The same night that Ivanka and Jared Kushner, her husband, had dinner with President Xi, China provisionally approved three new trademarks for Ivanka’s brand—giving them monopoly rights in the world’s second-largest economy.
Ivanka claimed to have put her interests in a trust. But this isn’t enough. “Ivanka has so many China ties and conflicts, yet she and Jared appear deeply involved in China contacts and policy. I would never have allowed it,” said Norman Eisen, a former White House ethics lawyer under Obama.