Kellyanne Conway promotes Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.
WASHINGTON — In a rare bipartisan move, the top Republican and Democrat on a key congressional panel Thursday sharply rebuked White House adviser Kellyanne Conway for publicly promoting Ivanka Trump’s fashion line and asked the federal government’s chief ethics official to review her conduct.
“What she did was wrong, wrong, wrong,” Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, tweeted Thursday afternoon as he and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., released the letter questioning Conway’s actions.
Conway, a counselor to President Trump, pushed Trump’s clothing business during a television interview Thursday morning.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” said during a Fox & Friends appearance from a White House briefing room.
“I own some of it,” she said of Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. “I’m … going give it a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
“Conway’s statements clearly violate the ethical principles for federal employees and are unacceptable,” Chaffetz and Cummings said in their letter to Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics.
The lawmakers say Conway likely violated rules that bar government officials from endorsing the “personal activities” of another individual and those that prohibit a public officials from promoting “any product, service or enterprise.”
Several independent ethics watchdogs also lodged complaints Thursday.
Asked about Conway’s actions, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday: “Kellyanne has been counseled … on that subject.” He would not elaborate.
Conway’s comments came a day after Donald Trump took to Twitter to slam Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s clothing line, complaining the department store chain treated Ivanka Trump “so unfairly.” His actions and Conway’s remarks Thursday sparked fresh questions about the new president’s commitment to separate his official duties from his family’s business interests.
The president said he has transferred management responsibilities for his real-estate and branding empire to his two adult sons and a longtime Trump Organization executive, but he has refused to relinquish an ownership stake in his companies.
“Anyone harboring illusions that there was some separation between the Trump administration and the Trump family businesses has had their fantasy shattered,” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, one of the groups that filed a complaint Thursday.
“Kellyanne Conway’s self-proclaimed advertisement for the Ivanka Trump fashion line demonstrates again what anyone with common sense already knew: President Trump and the Trump administration will use the government apparatus to advance the interests of the family businesses,” he said.
Government employees can face punishment, up to firing, for ethics violations.
Chaffetz and Cummings note that the ethics agency faces an “additional challenge” in its review because 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.”
The lawmakers said Shaub should outline what his agency determines is the appropriate disciplinary action, if any, against Conway, and share those recommendations with the House Oversight panel.
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