Washington —Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway’s official endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s products from the White House this morning was an apparent violation of federal law, ethics regulations and other standards of conduct, according to complaints filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Office of Government Ethics and White House Counsel’s Office.
During an interview on Fox & Friends, Ms. Conway explicitly endorsed Ms. Trump’s products, saying, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you…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.” At the time, Ms. Conway 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 law is clear that public officials should not use their offices for their own private gain or the private gain of others,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “It’s hard to find a clearer case of that kind of misuse of office than we saw today.”
Federal ethics regulations prohibit any employee from endorsing “any product, service or enterprise,” even explicitly saying that a government employee “may not appear in a television commercial in which she endorses” a product. Conway appears to have further violated federal law prohibiting the use of public funds for non-official purposes. Selling the president’s daughter’s clothing line is not an official purpose of the United States government.
“This is just another example of what looks like a disturbing pattern of this administration acting to benefit the businesses of the president’s family and supporters,” Bookbinder said. “Americans are unfortunately at the point where they have to question who the Trump administration is looking out for, the American people or the Trump family.”