Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway drew sharp criticism and complaints on Thursday over the ethics of using her position to promote the clothing line of President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, one day after Trump attacked a retailer for dropping it.
Federal ethics rules prohibit executive branch employees from using their positions to endorse products or for the private gain of friends.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff … I’m going to go get some myself today,” Conway told Fox News in an interview from the White House. “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody.”
The non-profit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Public Citizen filed complaints with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and the White House Counsel’s Office.
“It’s a violation of the rule,” Norman Eisen, who served as an ethics adviser to Democratic President Barack Obama, told MSNBC. “It’s a serious matter.”
The top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Elijah Cummings, called on the committee to refer the matter to the OGE for potential disciplinary action.
The White House and the OGE did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz did not respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday President Trump attacked department store chain Nordstrom Inc for dropping his daughter’s products, drawing intense criticism for using a White House twitter platform to intervene in a commercial matter involving his family’s business ties.
Ivanka Trump had said she would step away from her company when her father took office in the White House.
Retailers that have dropped Neiman Marcus and HSN Inc.
An ongoing campaign called #GrabYourWallet encourages shoppers to boycott products with ties to President Trump and his family. Supporters have launched an alternative social media campaign called #BuyIvanka.
Asked at a press briefing on Thursday if Conway had crossed an ethical line, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, “She has been counseled on that subject, and that’s it.”
(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Toni Reinhold)