Update: Kellyanne Conway will not be disciplined for plugging Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on a live interview with Fox & Friends last month, per an official statement released by The White House. Stefan Passantino, deputy counsel of compliance and ethics, penned a letter to Walter Shaub, director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, stating that Conway was just kidding, more or less.
“Upon completion of our inquiry, we concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again," wrote Passantino. "It is noted that Ms. Conway made the statement in question in a light, off-handed manner while attempting to stand up for a person she believed had been unfairly treated and did so without nefarious motive or intent to benefit personally."
Additionally, Passantino pointed out that he met with Conway, and advised her that her comments implicated that she was endorsing Trump’s products: “Ms. Conway has acknowledged her understanding of the Standards and has reiterated her commitment to abiding by them in the future."
Update, February 9, 3:35 p.m.: House oversight chairman and Republican. rep. Jason Chaffetz called Kellyanne Conway's remarks about Ivanka Trump's brand "wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line, unacceptable," according to the Associated Press."It needs to be dealt with," Chaffetz told the AP. "There's no ifs, ands or buts about it."
Chaffetz and Democratic oversight leader Elijah Cummings will be writing a letter about Conway's comments to the Office of Government Ethics for review, and Chaffetz will also write a letter to President Trump about the situation. Meanwhile the Office of Government Ethics reported to have received an influx of calls, e-mails, and site visits after Conway's appearance on Fox & Friends, according to CNN.
This story was originally published on February 9, 2017 at 10:45 a.m.
The plot in the Ivanka Trump (the brand) vs. retailers scuffle continues to thicken: Kellyanne Conway went on Fox & Friends this morning to discuss Sean Spicer, President Trump's recent Twitter activity, and, of course, all the news surrounding the First Daughter. As far as the latter is concerned, she had a clear message for viewers: "Go buy Ivanka's stuff."
That "stuff" Conway is referring to, of course, might look like a pair of Ivanka Trump-branded floral slingbacks or a striped T-shirt or two, a.k.a. merchandise that's recently been reshuffled or dropped by retailers like T.J. Maxx, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus. "You asked about Ivanka — I visited her yesterday," Conway said on the show. "This is a very successful businesswoman — twice. Obviously, she's stepped away from it now, but in the past, she's helped to run her family's real estate empire. And, on the side, she developed another unbelievably entrepreneurial, wildly successful business that bears her name." Conway then noted that the number of stores stocking Ivanka Trump's collection has recently increased, a development reported by Bloomberg amid the back-and-forth between Nordstrom, Ivanka Trump, and even the President.
"She's just at a very good place," Conway continued. "She's an incredibly confident, creative, talented woman who also supports her father's presidency and realizes that there are bigger issues that he's going to tackle. And if she decides — and it works for her family — she comes inside the White House here, she knows people like [Trump administration senior advisor] Dina Powell and me will be working with her on women empowerment and women and girls." However, in true Conway form, it didn't stop there: She then called it "ironic" how retail executives were "bragging about what they've done to her and her line," considering the success Ivanka has achieved as "a champion for women in power and women in the workplace." And then, came the plug: "Go buy Ivanka's stuff is what I would tell you," Conway said.
According to a federal ethics law, Conway may have stepped out of line when she plugged Trump's fashion line on air, as pointed out by Business Insider (and many folks on social media). Per the Code of Federal Regulations, an employee of the federal government "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, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member, and persons with whom the employee has or seeks employment or business relations."
Later on in the program, Conway continued to praise Ivanka Trump's namesake brand. "This is just wonderful line," she told Fox & Friends. "I own some of it. I fully—I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online." The shoutout may have been informal, but it just may be enough to be considered something more than an ethics breach.
In the interview, anchor Steve Doocy also asked if Conway had caught wind of the #GoBuyIvanka and #GrabYourWallet hashtags, to which she replied: "We know where that came from. And that's been a huge failure." She went on to conflate it with Hillary Clinton's loss, and referred to the Million Women's March on Washington, D.C. as "that march thing." So, there's also that.