Ethics Watchdog Wants Conway Disciplined

President's Counselor Did 'Free Commercial' for Ivanka Trump Fashions

Written by Ryan Kelley, Common Cause intern on February 15, 2017

Ethics thumbnail for issue buckets

The Office of Government Ethics, the internal watchdog for the federal bureaucracy, is calling for disciplinary action against presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway after she violated ethical rules for government employees by going on national TV to hawk fashions for President Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

Press secretary Sean Spicer had previously said Conway was being “counseled” on the endorsement and that no other action would be taken.  However, the OGE letter, sent to the top White House ethics official and the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, asserts that “counseling” is insufficient.

The violation is even more egregious because the rule in question refers to a “hypothetical case of a Presidential appointee appearing on a television commercial for a product” as an instance of “misuse of position.” That’s exactly what Conway did last week when she discussed Ivanka Trump’s fashions on “Fox and Friends.”

Conway’s  “free commercial” – her phrase -- for Ivanka Trump’s brand was delivered from the White House briefing room, giving it the administration’s imprimatur. The Standards of Conduct were established during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

The Trump administration is no stranger to ethics breaches, but this one is particularly troubling.  Common Cause has already condemned Conway’s misconduct and urged that she be disciplined. The OGE’s request for disciplinary action is forcing the administration to choose between ignoring the OGE and continuing to exhibit a lack of ethical principles, or disciplining Conway and rebuking one of the President’s most vocal allies.  

The choice ought to be easy. Conway broke a rule that has been in place for years, under presidents of both major parties. President Trump must hold her accountable. Here’s hoping the OGE letter changes his mind.



Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Ethics

Tags: Executive Ethics

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