Office of Government Ethics pissed White House didn’t punish Kellyanne Conway for Ivanka plug
What seems like a lifetime ago, Kellyanne Conway treated her appearance on “Fox and Friends” like a QVC segment, telling Americans to “buy Ivanka’s stuff” as it was being dropped from stores nationwide. Neither the Office of Government Ethics nor Ivanka Trump herself were pleased, with the former urging the White House to discipline her and the latter issuing a stern rebuke.
In the end, Conway got off without so much as a slap on the wrist after using the “just kidding” defense, with White House ethics counselor Stefan Passantino concluding that “Ms. Conway made the statement in question in a light, off-hand manner while attempting to stand up for a person she believed had been unfairly treated and did so without nefarious motive or intent to benefit personally.”
Now the Office of Government Ethics has brought up the issue once more, saying it’s super uncomfortable with the outcome of that particular incident.
In a pair of open letters addressed to House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Committee of Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Elijah Cummings, and Passantino, respectively and posted to Twitter, OGE director Walter Shaub states his grave “concern” over the non-punishment of Conway:
“Not taking disciplinary action against a senior official under such circumstances risks undermining the ethics program… It is critical to the public’s faith in the integrity of government that White House employees be held to the same standard of ethical accountability as other executive branch employees,” he added.
As you might have guessed by now, the OGE has limited power to enforce its recommendations.
While it’s cute Shaub is still trying to make something happen, these people have made it clear they are immune to any checks and balances that do not involve naked, physically-backed demonstrations of power (ex: The recent restraining orders against enforcing Trump’s Muslim ban). They cannot be shamed into doing “the right thing,” they don’t respect the trappings of bourgeois democracy, and they certainly don’t give a fuck what you post on Twitter. They have laid bare just how many of our checks and balances rely on all branches of government to be acting in good faith. The only ways to fight them are political obstructionism (weak), voting them out (too far off), and grassroots resistance efforts like strikes and uprisings (ding, ding, ding).
The sooner our faithful civil servants get that through their bureaucratic heads, the better. The Trump administration is a new kind of enemy and will do as it pleases, no matter how many open letters you write.