Kellyanne Conway Broke The Law Defending Ivanka Trump
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, is under fire for potentially breaking the law while talking about Ivanka Trump on Fox News on February 8.
She was on the show to discuss the president's comments on Ivanka's clothing and handbag line.
Then on Wednesday, Donald Trump tweeted about Nordstrom.
This was viewed as not super ethical, considering Trump said he would avoid conflicts of interest by staying out of his family's businesses while serving the country as president.
But while the president's actions were suspicious, Conway's seemed to pretty clearly break the law.
Conway was on Fox News discussing the president's Nordstrom comment.
During the segment, she criticized women for criticizing Ivanka (in Conway's world, feminism means supporting ALL WOMEN FOREVER NO MATTER WHAT THEY ENDORSE... AS LONG AS THEY'RE NOT DEMOCRATS) and celebrating the success of the #GrabYourWallet boycott.
But Conway also spent time praising Ivanka's line — and urging viewers to buy it.
As the hosts tried to interrupt to ask a question, Conway asserted,
Go buy Ivanka's stuff, is what I would tell you. I hate shopping, I'm gonna get some myself today.
Conway then claimed #GrabYourWallet and the Women's March were failures. Conway interrupted herself to say,
It's a wonderful line. I own some of it. I'm gonna give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.
According to some experts, Conway's "free commercial" was also totally illegal.
Jonathan Chait over at New York magazine said Conway's action "appears to be completely illegal."
He made this analysis based on federal law from the Office of Government Ethics. That law says,
An employee 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.
In other words, government employees, like Conway, are very much not allowed to say "go buy my friend's product."
(Brief aside to call out the sexism in those rules only using male pronouns.)
Attorneys and experts agree that broke the law for Ivanka.
Don W. Fox, former general counsel and acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, told The Washington Post,
Conway's encouragement to buy Ivanka's stuff would seem to be a clear violation of rules prohibiting misuse of public office for anyone's private gain.
He went on to say that this was "jaw-dropping" to him.
Even Peter Schweizer, who wrote the book "Clinton Cash," which went after the Clinton Foundation, told The Washington Post the Trump administration "crossed a very, very important bright line, and it's not good." He said,
To encourage Americans to buy goods from companies owned by the first family is totally out of bounds and needs to stop.
The typical punishment for this, a lawyer said, is a suspension and loss of pay.
Citations: Kellyanne Conway's Endorsement of Ivanka Products Apparently Violates Federal Law (New York Magazine), Office of Government Ethics, Conway may have broken key ethics rule by touting Ivanka Trump's products, experts say (The Washington Post)