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Kellyanne Conway Just Told Everybody To "Go Buy Ivanka’s Stuff” — Potentially Violating Ethics Law

Conway said she was giving a "free commercial" for Ivanka Trump's products — a day after President Trump slammed Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's brand.

Last updated on July 3, 2018, at 2:01 p.m. ET

Posted on February 9, 2017, at 10:19 a.m. ET

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway encouraged people to "go buy Ivanka's stuff" during an interview with Fox and Friends Thursday.

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Conway used her appearance on the morning show to promote Ivanka Trump's brand, a day after President Trump used the official @POTUS account to slam Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's clothing line.

Nordstrom announced last week that they were dropping Ivanka Trump's clothing line because of declining sales of the brand. After the president's public condemnation of Nordstrom, the company reiterated that their decision was based on the brand's performance. However, Conway appeared to criticize the online retailer for using Ivanka Trump to "get to" the president. "I do find it ironic that you've got some executives all over the internet bragging about what they’ve done to her and her line and yet they’re using the most prominent woman in Donald Trump's…you know…she's his daughter, and they’re using her, who's been a champion for woman empowerment and women in the workplace, to get to him," Conway told Fox and Friends. "Go buy Ivanka's stuff is what I would tell you," Conway added. "I hate shopping, but I’m gonna go get some myself today."Ivanka has tried to distance herself from her brand since the election.
Twitter: @realDonaldTrump

Nordstrom announced last week that they were dropping Ivanka Trump's clothing line because of declining sales of the brand. After the president's public condemnation of Nordstrom, the company reiterated that their decision was based on the brand's performance.

However, Conway appeared to criticize the online retailer for using Ivanka Trump to "get to" the president.

"I do find it ironic that you've got some executives all over the internet bragging about what they’ve done to her and her line and yet they’re using the most prominent woman in Donald Trump's…you know…she's his daughter, and they’re using her, who's been a champion for woman empowerment and women in the workplace, to get to him," Conway told Fox and Friends.

"Go buy Ivanka's stuff is what I would tell you," Conway added. "I hate shopping, but I’m gonna go get some myself today."

Ivanka has tried to distance herself from her brand since the election.

"It's a wonderful line, I own some of it... I'm just going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online," Conway said.

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Press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that Conway was "counseled" for her comments, but did not elaborate.

.@PressSec says @KellyannePolls has been "counseled" after she told people to "go buy Ivanka's stuff."… https://t.co/jg5HhQAnJw

"She's been counseled on that subject and that's it," Spicer said at the White House press briefing.

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The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Jason Chaffetz, called Conway's promotion of Ivanka's brand, "clearly over the line, unacceptable," the Associated Press reported.

BREAKING: House Oversight chairman calls White House aide's promotion of Ivanka Trump brand `clearly over the line, unacceptable'

"That was wrong, wrong, wrong," Chaffetz said, according to MSNBC producer, Jesse Rodriguez. "It is wholly unacceptable no if, ands or buts about it."

Chaffetz's comments came after Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, urged Chaffetz to refer Conway for "potential disciplinary action."

"This appears to be a textbook violation of government ethics laws and regulations enacted to prevent the abuse of an employee’s government position,” Cummings wrote in a letter to Chaffetz.

Chaffetz and Cummings later sent a letter to the OGE, calling on the office to investigate and recommend discipline.

"As director of the OGE, you have authority to review potential ethics violations and notify the employee's agency, which in this case is the White House. In this case, there is an additional challenge, which is that the President, as the ultimate disciplinary authority for White House employees, has an inherent conflict of interest since Conway's statements relate to his daughter's private business. For this reason, we request that you use authority Congress granted to you under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, to 'recommend to the head of the officer's or employee's agency that appropriate disciplinary action (such as reprimand, suspension, demotion, or dismissal) be brought against the officer or employee,'" the letter said.

In a series of tweets, responding to a high volume "of contacts from citizens about recent events," the Office of Government Ethics said it did not have the authority to investigate "possible ethical violations."

4/ When OGE learns of possible ethics violations, OGE contacts the agency, provides guidance & asks them to notify OGE of any action taken.

The OGE did not elaborate on what the "recent events" were. It said that the Congress, the US Government Accountability Officer, Inspector Generals and the Office of Special Counsel had the authority to conduct investigations.

“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 the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) told the Washington Post.

Federal ethical regulations state that a government employee cannot use their public office “for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.”The provisions issued by the OGE are designed to ensure that government employees do not misuse their official position. "This is jaw-dropping to me," Fox told the Post, adding that the OGE Standards of Conduct applied to all executive branch employees and members of the armed forces. The OGE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
oge.gov$FILE/SOC%20as%20of%2081%20FR%2048687.pdf

Federal ethical regulations state that a government employee cannot use their public office “for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.”

The provisions issued by the OGE are designed to ensure that government employees do not misuse their official position.

"This is jaw-dropping to me," Fox told the Post, adding that the OGE Standards of Conduct applied to all executive branch employees and members of the armed forces.

The OGE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Chris Lu, a former Obama administration official, said that he and his White House colleagues "would've been fired" if they did what Conway had done. "Then again, our boss cared about ethics," Lu added.

My Obama WH colleagues can chime in. If we did what @KellyannePolls did, we would've been fired. Then again, our boss cared about ethics

Lu, the former United States deputy secretary of labor, also said that Conway "violated" the federal ethics rule issued by the OGE.

Norman Eisen, Obama White House ethics czar, told MSNBC that Conway "is going to need to be disciplined" for violating federal law.

Obama WH Ethics Czar @NormEisen: @KellyannePolls is "going to need to be disciplined" for violating law by saying "… https://t.co/FiK3OILhP0

Eisen told MSNBC that Conway was "flouting one of the most basic rules" of not using public office for the private gain of another.

"She was speaking in her public capacity, to benefit private parties for private gain," Eisen said. "In this case she was doing an advertisement for Ivanka Trump's products. It is contrary to federal law to do what she did. I believe that it's a violation of the rules and she's going to need to be disciplined for it."

He said that White House counsel, and ultimately the president, is "going to be responsible for doing something about that."

"We can't have federal officials breaking federal law," Eisen said.

Eisen also criticized Donald Trump Jr. for attacking Nordstrom by tweeting a Breitbart story about women reportedly planning to boycott the retailer.

Exclusive — Women Nationwide Cut Up Nordstrom’s Cards, Plan Boycotts After Political Decision to Drop Ivanka Trump https://t.co/XHSUsoxaA2

"American law doesn't allow this," Eisen told MSNBC. "For example, the California unfair competition law where Nordstrom has a lot of stores. One of the broadest laws of its kind in the country, it says you can't unfairly attack a business. And that's what's happening here."

"This is the behavior of a mafia don defending his turf. Not the president of the United States," Eisen added.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the OGE and the White House Counsel's Office, urging them to investigate Conway's "apparent violation of federal law" and "take any necessary disciplinary action."

"As the law makes clear, public officials should not use their offices for either their own private gain or the private gain of others," CREW said in the complaint to the White House Counsel. "Ms Conway appears to have violated both the letter and the spirit of these rules when she used her position to endorse the accessories and clothing line of Ms. Trump, the daughter of the president."

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