Update, 12:47 p.m.: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which is chaired by Norm Eisen, has filed an ethics complaint calling for an investigation into Conway’s remarks.
Ethics lawyers are alleging that a top White House aide may have broken federal ethics rules Thursday when she urged Fox News viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” Kellyanne Conway, who serves as a counselor to President Donald Trump, made the remarks while defending a tweet that Trump published Wednesday attacking Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s fashion line. (The president and members of his administration claim the department store’s move was politically motivated.)
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you,” Conway said during an appearance on Fox & Friends. “I hate shopping, but I’m going to get some myself today.” She later added, “It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it. I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
The comments sparked immediate criticism from prominent ethics experts, including Campaign Legal Center general counsel Lawrence Noble and Norm Eisen, the former chief White House ethics lawyer under Barack Obama. They suggested Conway’s statements may have violated a regulation prohibiting federal employees from using their government positions “to endorse any product, service or enterprise.”
Appears Kellayanne Conway may have just violated ban on Federal employee using public office for endorsement of product. 5 CFR 2635.702 https://t.co/mIvngSHCnk
— Larry Noble (@LarryNoble_DC) February 9, 2017
Yup–just made same point @MSNBC @SRuhle https://t.co/MtBJ7DE78v
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) February 9, 2017
The controversy follows a similar firestorm on Wednesday, when Trump accused Nordstrom of treating his daughter “unfairly” by announcing it would stop carrying her clothing line. The department store company, however, has cited what it said were declining sales as the reason for its decision.
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
“Clearly, the Trumps feel some of this is related to politics. But whether that’s true or not, these marketing battles need to be fought by Ivanka and her company,” Peter Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash, told the Washington Post. “They cannot and should not be fought by government employees and the White House. It’s time to move beyond the mind-set and the role of a businessman and assume the mantle of commander of chief.”
When asked about the president’s tweet Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer condemned Nordstrom’s announcement as a “direct attack” on the president.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Conway’s remarks.
This story has been revised.