During an appearance on Fox News, senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway plugged Ivanka Trump’s product lines. Speaking from the White House, she said:
Go buy Ivanka’s stuff. . .I’m going to go get some myself today. I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody.
By saying this, Conway appears to have violated an ethics rule that prohibits a federal employee from “us[ing] his public office for his own private gain [or] for the endorsement of any product, service, or enterprise. . .” Reportedly, she was “counseled” by someone in the White House about this.
The rules are the rules. If Conway violated this rule, she should be told not to do it again.
In context, however, it’s easy to understand why Conway said what she did. The context is a campaign by leftists to ruin the business of the president’s daughter.
I’m pretty sure this tactic is unprecedented. For example, even though leftists hated Ronald Reagan, I don’t recall any organized attempt to inflict economic damage on any of his four adult children.
In those days, the left was badly misguided, but not sick. These days, it’s both.
I assume that the ethics rule against federal employees plugging products was designed to keep them from conferring an unfair economic advantage on themselves or their friends. When it was enacted, I’m reasonably sure no one imagined that partisans would try to ruin the business of a president’s son or daughter.
Given that left-wing partisans are gleefully attempting to do just that, the ethics rule now puts the president’s family at an unfair disadvantage. Unless President Trump himself endorses Ivanka’s line (the ethics rule doesn’t apply to him), his team can’t really fight back against the left’s boycott.
According to this report, Kellyanne Conway is “unrepentant” about her plug for Ivanka’s “stuff.” In my view, she has no reason to repent. It will be enough if in the future she adheres, however reluctantly, to the ethics rules.
However, this isn’t good enough for Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz, chairman of House of Representatives Oversight committee. Along with Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ultra-partisan ranking Democrat on the committee who did his best to undermine investigations into the Obama administration’s misconduct, he asked the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to review Conway’s comments and recommend disciplinary action against her if warranted. The two members moaned that President Trump, 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.
Chaffetz is under assault by leftists in his Utah district. They just disrupted one of his town hall meetings. But if Chaffetz thinks he can pacify these extremists by co-signing a letter with Elijah Cummings, he is greatly mistaken.
The left is waging war on Trump, Chaffetz, all conservatives, and all Republicans. Chaffetz should not be supplying it with ammunition.
Conway committed a minor ethics violation. The circumstances of the violation were unusual, making the violation understandable. Chaffetz should not have teamed up with Cummings to make a mountain out of this molehill.
BY THE WAY: Here’s an interview with Conway that appeared in the Washington Post magazine. Conway comes across very well, I think.
She’s combative when pushed, which is a good thing. I’m pretty sure Obama’s top aides would have been at least as combative if a mainstream media reporter had ever challenged them to the same degree in an interview.