Top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway’s QVC-caliber plug for Ivanka Trump’s fashion line warrants “disciplinary action,” the government’s ethics agency advised the White House on Tuesday.
“I note that OGE’s regulation on misuse of position offers as an example the hypothetical case of a Presidential appointee appearing in a television commercial to promote a product,” Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub wrote in a letter to deputy White House counsel Stefan Passantino.
“Ms. Conway’s actions track that example almost exactly. Therefore, I recommend that the White House investigate Ms. Conway’s actions and consider taking disciplinary action against her.”
The three-page letter, dated Monday, deemed Conway’s self-described “free commercial” for the First Daughter’s lifestyle products — delivered during a Fox News interview Thursday from the White House briefing room — to be a “clear violation” of federal misuse of position rules.
The White House should notify OGE with its investigation’s findings, as well as any resulting disciplinary action, by Feb. 28, Shaub concluded.
Conway last week raised bipartisan eyebrows after telling “Fox and Friends” viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” — an apparent attempt to bolster the businesswoman after Nordstrom, citing flagging sales, pulled her brand from its offerings.
“Go buy it today, everybody,” Conway chirped. “You can find it online.”
The counselor to the President’s as-seen-on-TV antics spurred House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and ranking committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to send OGE a joint letter noting she’d violated a rule prohibiting federal employees’ use of their office “for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”
Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that day — without elaborating — that Conway had been “counseled.” President Trump bristled at Spicer’s use of that word, according to a Politico report, while Ivanka Trump reportedly scolded Conway for miring her brand in controversy. In a Fox News interview Thursday night, Conway claimed the President supported her “100%.”
President Trump and Ivanka Trump walk and talk on the White House’s South Lawn.
The White House did not immediately return a Daily News request for comment on any planned investigation or discipline regarding Conway’s actions.
Tuesday’s ethics letter continued a rough day for Conway. She appeared exhausted during a “Today” show interview addressing Michael Flynn’s abrupt resignation as national security advisor, claiming his misleading the administration about a call with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. had made his job “unsustainable” — even though he still had President Trump’s loyalty.
Host Matt Lauer, noting the Justice Department had warned the White House last month of Flynn having misrepresented the December call and put himself at risk for blackmail by Russia, told Conway her explanation “makes no sense.”
And “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough, on his own show, blasted Conway as “out of the loop” and misinformed on top-level White House discussions.
Conway claimed not to know who had accessed her account to share a white nationalist’s tweet.
(@KellyannePolls via Twitter)
Conway’s Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon accepted sympathy from a white nationalist applauding her “strength and resiliency in face of vile hatred, bigotry, & sexism of the unhinged Left.”
“Love you back. Happy (heart emojis) Day to the Hapless Haters,” her account tweeted at @TrumpTrainNoBrk, whose page features a frog emoji — likely invoking the designated hate symbol and alt-right emblem Pepe the Frog — and the hashtags “#WhiteIdentity” and “#Nationalist.”
The veteran pollster later deleted the tweet, telling BuzzFeed News that she didn’t know who had accessed her account.
“I denounce whoever it is,” Conway said. “It will be immediately deleted. Everybody makes mistakes.”