The independent federal government watchdog recommended on Tuesday the White House investigate and bring potential disciplinary action against President Donald Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway for her endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.
In a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub wrote that Conway had potentially misused her position when she appeared on Fox News and appealed to viewers to “buy Ivanka’s stuff,” saying that she was “going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today everybody.”
“Under the present circumstances, there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted,” Shaub wrote, noting that she appeared onscreen between the White House official seal and the American flag.
The OGE director said that all White House staff received initial ethics training before Conway’s comments, and noted that executive branch officials should “use the authority entrusted to them for the benefit of the American people and not for private profit.”
“These facts, if true, would establish a clear violation of the prohibition against misuse of position,” the OGE director continued. “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. 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.”
Shaub also reported that despite White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s confirmation that Trump had “counseled” Conway, OGE had “yet to receive notification of any disciplinary or other corrective action against Ms. Conway.”
In its initial letter to the OGE director, the ranking members noted that there was an inherent conflict of interest in any potential investigation into Conway’s endorsement, as the president is in charge of taking disciplinary action against White House staff.
Despite the bipartisan condemnation about Republicans and Democrats on the oversight committee, Conway appeared to maintain her support from the White House.
The counselor herself appeared to joke about Spicer’s comment in a tweet last week.
Read the full letter below:
I learned important lessons this week. This one was my favourite.
P.S. He likes “counselor” more than “counseled”.
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