White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Conway had 'been counseled on that subject, and that's it.'
Kellyanne Conway used her platform Thursday to urge Americans to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” prompting a wave of backlash for potentially violating ethics rules governing the executive branch.
Standing in the White House press briefing room, Conway, a counselor to the president, encouraged Americans to purchase Ivanka Trump’s products, one day after President Donald Trump himself lashed out at the luxury retailer Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s clothing line.
It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it,” Conway told “Fox & Friends.” “I fully — I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
Conway’s remark appears to violate the executive branch’s ban on staff endorsing products or companies. The regulation, from the Office of Government Ethics, also prohibits using public office for private gain of oneself or friends or relatives.
Under the regulation, OGE’s director can notify the employee of the violation and ask the agency to investigate. The director can recommend discipline, including suspension, loss of pay or termination, but would probably just issue a warning for a first offense.
Conway said Thursday night on Fox News that she had spoken with the president about the controversy and said it was a “very heartening moment.”
“I am just really happy that I spent an awful lot of time of the president of the United States this afternoon and that he supports me 100 percent,” she said.
At his daily briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Conway had "been counseled on that subject, and that's it," declining to further elaborate on whether the White House believed the counselor to the president had crossed a line.
But lawmakers suggested that it did. Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, respectively, wrote in a letter to OGE Director Walter Shaub that Conway’s interview “raised extremely serious concerns.”
“As the director of OGE, you have authority to review potential ethics violations and notify the employee’s agency, which in this case is the White House,” they said. “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.”
They asked that OGE “review Conway’s statement and act promptly on the basis of your findings,” as well as report back to the House panel with a recommendation for disciplinary action, if necessary.
Cummings earlier Thursday had said in a letter to Chaffetz, “This appears to be a textbook violation of government ethics laws and regulations enacted to prevent the abuse of an employee’s government position,” and asked for a committee “review and potential disciplinary action.”
Chaffetz seemed to agree, telling The Associated Press that Conway’s remark was “wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line, unacceptable.”
"It needs to be dealt with," Chaffetz had said. "There's no ifs, ands or buts about it."
A host of liberal, progressive and nonpartisan advocacy groups filed complaints against Conway, including the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which filed its complaint with both OGE and the White House Counsel’s Office.
More at the source.