By encouraging Fox News viewers to “buy Ivanka’s stuff,” White House spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway’s statements “clearly violate the ethical principals for federal employees,” according to a bipartisan letter from two key members of Congress.
Filed late this afternoon, the letter from the leaders of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform encourages disciplinary action “such as reprimand, suspension, demotion or dismissal” be recommended against Conway by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and ranking minority member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., admitted that the ethical debate around Conway and a brand owned by Ivanka Trump is more complicated than most because the executive who would punish Conway is Donald Trump, Ivanka’s father. Since Conway was supporting President Trump’s daughter, they say, he is unlikely to punish her without intervention by the Office of Government Ethics.
“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,” states the letter to Walter M. Shaub, director of the ethics office. “For this reason, we request that you use authority Congress granted to you under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, to ‘recommend to 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.”
Here is the full letter:
At issue is an interview Conway gave on Fox News this morning, when she responded to Nordstrom dropping Ivanka Trump’s product line due to slumping sales. President Trump had rekindled the debate over the brand’s decision by tweeting that the retailer was “terrible” for cutting the product line.
Conway, speaking in front of the White House seal, urged shoppers to support the president’s daughter: “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I would say. I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
Urged by Trump’s critics to condemn the statement as unethical and potentially illegal, Chaffetz responded with the letter and a tweet calling Conway’s actions “wrong, wrong, wrong.”