White House adviser Kellyanne Conway urged Americans to buy Ivanka Trump’s brand while she appeared on Fox.
“I’m gonna just going to give a free commercial here,” she said on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday. ”Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.” Her comments come a day after President Donald Trump complained on Twitter that retailer Nordstrom () had treated his daughter “so unfairly” by dropping her brand of clothing and shoes.
Ivanka Trump’s fashion line has come under pressure due to an anti-Donald Trump boycott called #grabyourwallet, which since last October has been urging consumers to snub retailers that sell brands tied to Trump family businesses. Her women’s clothing, shoes and handbags have become a particular focal point of the #grabyourwallet campaign, whichas some voters are looking for ways to express their concerns about the administration.
Nordstrom said last week it would stop carrying the Ivanka Trump brand because of poor sales, citing the move asrather than politics.
Conway seemed to scoff at that notion Thursday. “Go buy ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you,” she said on Fox. “I’m going to — hate shopping — and I’m going to go get some myself today.”
Conway, as a counselor to Mr. Trump, is a federal employee. Her urging of American voters to buy Ivanka Trump’s products quickly raised questions given a federal ethics rule that bars officials from using their roles to promote products. Federal law says “an employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”
Asked on Fox about the #grabyourwallet boycott, Conway pivoted to make remarks critical of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton before returning to Ivanka Trump and the boycott against her products. “They had the first female president everybody thought, talking about that day and night. She had no message, no positive message,” Conway said. “They’re welcome to march but what’s coming of it in terms of you know commercial interest. She’s — this is just a wonderful line.”
On social media, the pushback was immediate, with complaints that Conway had crossed an ethical line and possibly violated federal employment rules that would require an official reprimand from her boss, President Trump.
An organization called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington hours later filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, asking it to “investigate this apparent violation of federal law, ethics regulations, and other standards of conduct, and take any necessary disciplinary action.”
In Congress, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democratic member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, requested in a letter to Chairman Jason Chaffetz “that the Committee refer for potential disciplinary action statements made on national television by Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to President Donald Trump, that directly promoted and endorsed the President’s daughter’s private business.”
Cummings wrote: “This appears to be a textbook violation of government ethics laws and regulations enacted to prevent the abuse of an employee’s government position. Since the Committee has direct jurisdiction over the ethics laws applicable to White House employees, I request that the Committee make an official referral of this matter to the Office of Government Ethics and request that it report back to the Committee as soon as possible with its findings.”