HEAT IS ON
Ethics Office Tells White House to Investigate and Discipline Kellyanne Conway
“There is strong reason to believe” she violated the rules against using her position to benefit Ivanka Trump, the government’s internal watchdog wrote.
The U.S. Office of Government Ethics asked the White House on Monday to investigate and potentially discipline Kellyanne Conway for endorsing Ivanka Trump’s merchandise.
Last week Conway implored people to buy “Ivanka Trump’s stuff” during a segment on a Fox & Friends segment recorded in the White House. Government ethics experts immediately cried foul and both ranking members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Republican Jason Chaffetz and Democrat Elijah Cummings, sent a letter to the White House and OGE seeking action for the potential violation.
On Tuesday, the committee released the letter from OGE director Walter Shaub Jr. to Stefan C. Passantino, deputy counsel to the president.
“Under the present circumstances, there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted,” Shaub wrote.
The primary issue at stake with Conway’s endorsement of the Ivanka Trump line is that federal ethics rules dictate that an employee of the executive branch “shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.” Shaub also said OGE was informed previously “all new senior White House appointees received their required initial ethics training.”
“I recommend that the White House investigate Ms. Conway’s actions and consider taking disciplinary action against her,” Shaub concluded, asking for the White House’s answer by February 28.
The White House did not immediately respond to a question from The Daily Beast about the matter.
Ivanka Trump reportedly expressed displeasure with Conway’s remarks and requested that she not mention her products on television again. Conway, meanwhile, apologized to Trump and he supposedly expressed his support for her.
On the day of Conway's remarks, OGE General Counsel David J. Apol spoke to Passantino at the White House.
“During the conversation, Mr. Apol requested that you notify OGE of any disciplinary or other corrective action taken by the White House in connection with Ms. Conway’s public statements regarding the business interests of the President’s daughter,” Shaub wrote.
OGE said it has not received any notification of action, despite White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s claim last week that Conway had been “counseled” following the incident.