Thursday, February 9, 2017

Conway May Have Broken Key Ethics Rule

President Trump’s Official Counselor, Kellyanne Conway, may have broken a key Ethics rule Thursday morning when she told TV audiences to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.”

Federal Employees are Banned from using their Public Office to endorse Products, Regulations state.

Conway, speaking to “Fox & Friends” viewers from the White House briefing room, was responding to boycotts of Ivanka Trump merchandise and Nordstrom’s discontinuation of stocking her clothes and shoe lines, which the retailer said was in response to low sales and which Trump assailed as unfair. “I’m going to give it a free commercial here,” Conway said of the President’s daughter’s merchandise brand. “Go buy it today.”

Attorneys, including Campaign Legal Center General Counsel Lawrence Noble, said Conway’s endorsement directly conflicted with United States Office of Government Ethics (OGE) rules designed to separate Government Policy from Private Business dealings.

“Conway’s encouragement to buy Ivanka’s stuff would seem to be a clear violation of rules prohibiting misuse of public office for anyone’s private gain,” Don W. Fox, former General Counsel and former Acting Director of OGE, told The Post.

“This is jaw dropping to me,” Fox added. “This rule has been promulgated by the federal Office of Government Ethics as part of the Standards of Conduct for all executive branch employees and it applies to all members of the armed forces as well.”

Enforcement measures are largely left to the Head of the Federal Agency, in Conway’s case, the White House. One lawyer said a typical Executive-Branch employee who Violated the Rule could face significant disciplinary action, including multi-day suspension and loss of pay.

Conway’s endorsement comes as the Trump Administration faces growing scrutiny over whether its taking fears of Conflicts of Interest seriously.

Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to lash out at Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka’s line, saying his daughter had “been treated so unfairly” by the store.

“They’ve crossed a very, very important bright line and it’s not good,” said Peter Schweizer, who has worked closely with Trump aide Stephen Bannon and authored the book “Clinton Cash,” which was critical of donations to the Clinton Foundation. “To encourage Americans to buy goods from companies owned by the first family is totally out of bounds and needs to stop.”

“Clearly, the Trumps feel some of this is related to politics. But whether that’s true or not, these marketing battles need to be fought by Ivanka and her company. They cannot and should not be fought by government employees and the White House,” Schweizer said. “It’s time to move beyond the mindset and the role of a businessman and assume the mantle of commander of chief.”

Trump critics quickly seized on the endorsement. Robert Weissman, President of Liberal Advocacy group Public Citizen, said in a statement, “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.”

The White House says Kellyanne Conway has been "Counseled" after she promoted Ivanka Trump's fashion line in a television interview.

Nordstrom said last week that it would no longer carry Ivanka Trump's line of clothing and accessories because of "brand performance." An online campaign called #GrabYourWallet has encouraged shoppers to boycott Ivanka Trump merchandise.

Why is Kellyanne pushing products made in China when the President is pushing Make America Great Again with Buy America.

In addition, the company that owns TJ Maxx and Marshalls said that it recently sent a memo to workers instructing them not to highlight the Ivanka Trump brand in stores. It did not provide a reason for those instructions.

And the Belk department store chain said it plans to pull Ivanka Trump products from its website, but will continue to offer them in stores. Belk said the decision was a response to customer feedback.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon

No comments: