Kellyanne Conway gets off scot-free after promoting Ivanka Trump’s brand
The White House announced Tuesday that Kellyanne Conway will endure absolutely no consequences for shilling Ivanka Trump’s clothing brand during a February 9appearance on “Fox and Friends.” Conway evaded punishment despite the Office of Government Ethics calling for an investigation into Conway actively using the White House to enrich the first daughter’s private business enterprise.
On February 28, deputy counsel to the president Stefan C. Passantino issued a response to the Office of Government Ethics and rejected their plea to discipline. Passantino said the White House’s conclusion on Conway’s behavior was that endorsement was accidental and that she lacked “nefarious motive.”
“We concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again,” Passantino wrote in a letter to Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub. “It is noted 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.”
In other words, the White House is leaning on the “just kidding” defense.
House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and member Rep Elijah Cummings (D-MD) initially spoke out against Conway urging the Fox audience to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff” following her line getting dropped from stores due to lagging sales. “This was a textbook case of a violation of the law,” Cummings said after Conway’s TV appearance. “You cannot go there as an employee of the government and advertise for Ivanka Trump or anyone else.”
Cummings echoed that sentiment in his response to the White House’s decision to let Conway off the hook:
“It is a very bad sign that the President chose not to discipline Ms. Conway for blatantly violating the law. Other federal employees would likely be suspended for engaging in this conduct, and White House officials should not be held to a different standard. I hope that the President reconsiders his decision and that he and his staff will take their ethical obligations more seriously.”
That’s assuming Trump and his staff are acknowledging ethical obligations in the first place.