Did Kellyanne Conway Just Break Federal Ethics Rules by Promoting Ivanka Trump’s Clothing Line?

Experts say the top Trump aide went too far.


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.”

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.

“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.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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