Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, was “counseled” on Thursday for encouraging Americans to purchase products from Ivanka Trump, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.
“Kellyanne has been counseled and that’s all we’re going to go with,” Spicer said at the daily press briefing. “She’s been counseled on that subject and that’s it.”
It was not immediately clear what, if any, disciplinary action was taken by the White House against Conway.
Earlier in the morning, Conway said on Fox News that she encouraged people to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” after Nordstrom severed ties with the Trump daughter’s brand.
“I’m going to give a free commercial here,” Conway said. “Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
Observers noted that she may have been a violation of federal ethics rules that prevent White House employees from promoting products for people “with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform, sent a letter to committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, over Conway’s comments. In it, he called for Chaffetz to consider “potential disciplinary action” for her statements.
“This appears to be a textbook violation of government ethics laws and regulations enacted to prevent the abuse of an employee’s government position,” Cummings wrote. “Since the committee has direct jurisdiction over the ethics laws applicable to White House employees, I request that the committee make an official referral of this matter to the Office of Government Ethics and request that it report back to the Committee as soon as possible with its findings.”
Chaffetz later called Conway’s comments “clearly over the line” and “unacceptable,” according to the Associated Press.
In addition, the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed an ethics complaint with the OGE and White House Counsel’s Office following Conway’s endorsement of Ivanka’s fashion line.
“The law is clear that public officials should not use their offices for their own private gain or the private gain of others,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. “It’s hard to find a clearer case of that kind of misuse of office than we saw today.”
Nordstrom dropped Ivanka’s line last week, telling Business Insider the brand was cut from its offerings based on poor performance. It sparked an retaliation from President Donald Trump on Twitter Wednesday, who said the retailer treated his daughter “so unfairly,” calling the decision “terrible!”
Ivanka — whose husband, Jared Kushner, is a senior White House adviser — did not take a position in her father’s administration. However, she stepped down from her roles with the Trump Organisation and her fashion brands to help clear up any potential conflicts of interest or ethical issues.
Watch Spicer’s answer below:
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