Last week, ethics watchdogs were aghast when Kellyanne Conway endorsed Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on Fox News. The endorsement appeared on its face to violate federal ethics rules prohibiting federal employees from advertising or otherwise endorsing commercial products in an official capacity.
In the wake of Conway’s endorsement, members of Congress from both parties issued statements of concern, and called for an investigation. Now, the Office of Government Ethics has weighed in, stating that the endorsement by Conway was a “clear violation” of ethics rules.
In a February 13 letter, the director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, wrote: “I recommend that the White House investigate Ms. Conway’s actions and consider taking disciplinary action against her.” Such disciplinary action is recommended to take place no later than February 28, 2017.
Possible disciplinary actions include reprimand, suspension, demotion or dismissal. Given Trump’s loyalty to Conway, however, it is unlikely that the punishment will be anything more serious than a slap on the wrist.
Conway’s plug for Ivanka is just the latest in a series of incidents highlighting the conflicts of interest created by the Trump family businesses. It should go without saying that the White House should never be used as a source of personal profit for the president or the president’s family. However, as demonstrated here, here, and here (the list goes on and on), the Trump family begs to differ.