The standards chief of U.S. Congress said that Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump aide was “wrong, wrong, wrong” to promote the products of Ivanka Trump on live television.
Earlier in the month, Retailer Nordstrom dropped Ivanka’s clothing line, citing a decrease in the number of sales. Kellyanne Conway said, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” in an interview with Fox News.
The promotion was “clearly over the line, unacceptable,” said Jason Chaffetz, a Republican who heads the oversight committee in Congress.
White House employees are not allowed to give an “endorsement of any product, service or enterprise” under the Federal Ethics rules.
Mr. Chaffetz said that the White House should notify the Office of Government Ethics so that an inquiry could be launched. There have been many concerns over possible conflicts of interests for White House employees. He also added that he and his Democratic counterpart would write to President Trump.
“It needs to be dealt with. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it,” he told Associated Press.
Understanding the Issue
Nordstrom dropped Ivanka’s clothing line – the fifth retailer to do so – citing lack of sales. The move comes amid an ongoing boycott of all Trump products; the boycott has been dubbed as #GrabYourWallet in reference to a 2005 comment Mr. Trump made about women’s bodies.
Nordstrom said that the decision was based on the performance of the brand, a stance the firm reiterated in its statement on Wednesday.
“Sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now.”
The statement also added the company had notified Ivanka Trump about the decision in early January. President Trump, however, attacked the company in a tweet on Wednesday.
The tweet, criticizing the company for treating Ivanka “unfairly” was retweeted by the official @POTUS account. It was initially sent by @realDonald Trump account.
Trump’s remarks led to a brief fall (0.7%) in retailer’s shares, before recovering later in the day. Ivanka Trump does not have a fixed role in White House yet, but her husband, Jared Kushner is a key Trump adviser. After the election of Mr. Trump, Ivanka gave up the operating control of her businesses, but not the ownership.
In a White House briefing room interview, Ms. Conway told Fox News:
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff. I’m going to go get some myself today. I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody.”
What has the Response Been to the Comments?
White House Spokesman, Sean Spicer said that Ms. Conway had been ‘counseled’ after the remarks. Calls for further investigation are growing, with Norman Eisen, a former ethics adviser to Barack Obama, saying that it was a “violation of the rule,” and a “serious matter.”
Two liberal lobby groups have filed complaints with the Office of Government Ethics. Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for one of the groups, Public Citizen, told AP that the actions reflect an ongoing careless disregard of conflicts of interests regulations by Trump family and administration.