CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
Washington — Ivanka Trump’s official endorsement of Goya products on social media was an apparent violation of federal ethics rules and standards of conduct, according to a complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Office of Government Ethics.
Following blowback against the CEO of the Goya Foods company after his praise of President Trump, the president’s daughter and Senior Advisor took to Twitter and Instagram modeling a can of Goya beans with the caption “If it’s Goya, it has to be good. Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno,” the company’s trademarked advertising slogan. Her social media bios identify her by her official position and she uses the accounts primarily for government business. The president put a picture of himself posing with Goya products in the Oval Office on Instagram shortly after, further contributing to the impression that this was done in her official capacity.
Federal ethics regulations prohibit any employee from endorsing “any product, service or enterprise.” While it may seem silly to be focused on a can of beans, a White House trying to direct business to supporters of the president is a massive ethics problem. And for this White House, it is just one more example of unchecked corruption.
“This is not just about beans; it’s another example of a disturbing pattern of this administration acting to benefit the businesses of the president’s supporters. In the midst of a worsening pandemic, senior administration officials should not be focused on the promotion of an ally’s business and should not be providing official incentives for businesses to support them politically,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “Senior Trump officials continue to act like ethics laws to not apply to them.”
In 2017, CREW filed complaints against Kellyanne Conway after she endorsed Ivanka Trump’s products from the White House briefing room, 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.” Conway received ethics counseling following the complaint, although the president defended her, and she proceeded to violate ethics rules and laws repeatedly.
“The law is clear that public officials should not use their offices for their own private gain or the private gain of others,” Bookbinder said. “This is the clearest case we’ve seen since Kellyanne Conway.”