Donald Trump’s highly visible counselor, and paid-liar Kellyanne Conway, violated long-standing ethical guidelines on national television last week when she shamelessly promoted Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. Conway’s live commercial was in response to news that Nordstrom’s planned on dropping Ivanka Trump’s clothing line due to “a decline in the product’s sales”.
It seems that neither Conway, nor President Trump, accepted that reason, Trump tweeting:
“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom.”
Before urgently urging viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” Conway also indicated her belief that the product line was dropped for political reasons. In particular to
“…get to [Trump]. I think people can see through that.”
Well, what people are seeing is a clear violation of a regulation set forth by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). According to the OGE,
“An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise….”
The regulation continues, explaining that this also pertains to the private gain of the public office holder’s friends and family.
The OGE isn’t the only entity noting the clear violation. Even those close to Trump’s inner circle have indicated their concerns about the administration’s willingness to use the office of the president to support the president’s private business interests. Peter Schweizer, former colleague of Steve Bannon and author of Clinton Cash told the media, “To encourage Americans to buy goods from companies owned by the first family is totally out of bounds and needs to stop. Clearly, the Trumps feel some of this is related to politics. But whether that’s true or not, these marketing battles need to be fought by Ivanka and her company. They cannot and should not be fought by government employees and the White House.”
Conway’s decision to blatantly urge viewers to buy Ivanka’s products crosses the ethical line and reaches into illegal behavior. Her violation of federal law can be met with a spectrum of consequences, but the extent of those consequences is determined by the director of the Office of Government Ethics. In similar situations an employee in violation receives a warning, followed by an investigation. However, suspension and loss of pay are other possibilities.