Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR), and ranking Democratic committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland are urging federal ethics officials to investigate presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway’s promotion of Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.
Conway telling the public on Fox News to buy Ivanka’s (daughter of President Trump) products “appear to violate federal ethics regulations, which prohibit actions that imply a government endorsement of the ‘personal activities’ of another person,” Chaffetz and Cummings wrote to Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Director Walter Shaub late Thursday.
“We request that you review Conway’s statement and act promptly on the basis of your findings,” they wrote. “We also ask you to report back to the committee with your recommendation for disciplinary action, if warranted.”
Conway, using the White House seal, repeatedly endorsed Ivanka Trump’s brand, saying, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you,” adding later, “I’m going to give a free commercial here.”
Conway made the statements after Nordstrom announced it is dropping Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. The department store blames declining sales, but President Trump thinks store officials are punishing his daughter for the temporary travel ban on immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries identified by President Barack Obama as potential threats to U.S. national security.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday that Conway “has been counseled,” an action Chaffetz and Cummings said supports the conclusion that she violated federal law.
Trump earlier this week also publicly defended his daughter’s clothing line, criticizing Nordstrom on Twitter. (RELATED: Trump Takes A Shot At Department Store That Dropped His Daughter’s Clothing Line)
Conway’s statements reflect broader concerns from critics of the Trump administration — that he will use his public office for private gain.
“As the director of OGE, you have the authority to review potential ethics violations and notify the employee’s agency, which in this case is the White House,” Chaffetz and Cummings wrote. “In this case, there is an additional challenge, which is that the president, as the ultimate disciplinary authority for White House employees, has an inherent conflict of interest since Conway’s statements relate to his daughter’s private business.”
“For this reason, we request that you use authority Congress granted you under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, to ‘recommend the head of the officer’s or employee’s agency that appropriate disciplinary action (such as reprimand, suspension, demotion, or dismissal) be brought against the officer or employee.”
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