Office of Government Ethics: Kellyanne Conway violated ethics rules


White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s public endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s product line on Fox News appears to be “a clear violation of the prohibition against misuse of position,” and she should be disciplined, the federal government’s chief ethics watchdog wrote this week in a letter to the White House. Ethics Watchdog Denounces Conway’s Endorsement of Ivanka Trump Products:

On Thursday, Ms. Conway, whose title is counselor to the president, gave an interview to Fox News from the White House briefing room, with the White House insignia visible behind her, defending the president and his daughter.

Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say,” she said. “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.”

Federal ethics rules on conflicts of interest specifically exempt the president and vice president. But for any other executive branch employee, the rules prohibit using public office for personal gain, or “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.”

Last week, Mr. Trump used Twitter to accuse Nordstrom of treating Ms. Trump unfairly.

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President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, said last week that Ms. Conway had been “counseled” about her statement, the White House has not clarified what that means. Experts in government ethics say that typically, offenses like Ms. Conway’s would result in a letter of reprimand, though it could be grounds for termination. It is up to the head of each agency — in this case, the president — to determine the punishment.

The Office of Government Ethics “has not yet received notification of any disciplinary or other corrective action against Ms. Conway,” Walter M. Shaub Jr., director of the office, wrote in a letter to Stefan C. Passantino, the deputy counsel to the president who is the designated ethics officer at the White House.

“There is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the standards of conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted,” the letter said.

The ethics office’s letter adds to the troubles piling up on Ms. Conway. On Monday, she was dispatched to the television cameras to say that Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, had the full confidence of Mr. Trump, just hours before Mr. Flynn resigned. On Tuesday, she appeared to respond to criticism of her public performances, posting on Twitter that she serves at the pleasure of the president. “His message is my message. His goals are my goals. Uninformed chatter doesn’t matter,” she wrote.

Last week, Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called Ms. Conway’s endorsement of Ms. Trump’s product line “wrong, wrong, wrong,” and he called on the ethics office to investigate. His response was all the more striking given that Mr. Chaffetz, a Republican, had brushed off previous calls to investigate Mr. Trump or those around him, despite his committee’s broad investigative powers.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), called on President Trump to follow the agency’s advice. Chaffetz, Cummings support ethics office opinion that Conway likely broke rules:

“I appreciate the quick response from OGE and hope the White House heeds their recommendation,” he said in a statement.

That was echoed by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, who on Tuesday described Conway’s remarks “a textbook violation of federal ethics rules.”

The ethics agency does not have investigative powers or enforcement authority. But the letter from Shaub steps up the pressure on the White House Counsel’s Office to disclose whether it took any action in response to Conway’s remarks. Shaub asked Passantino for a response by Feb. 28.

These kinds of conflicts of interest are just going to keep piling up as Trump tries to monetize his position as president to turn a profit for his Trump brand.


  1. Yeah, she violated the ethics standards in a minor way. She deserves a letter of reprimand for doing so. But her action in no way approaches the level to justify the hoopla democrats are making of it. The democrats should be embarrassed at making such an issue of a minor infraction of the rules, but democrats long ago demonstrated they have no shame. In their eyes and in their zeal to smear the Trump Administration, a parking ticket is worthy of flogging.

    It is obvious that democrats have lost their collective mind with this last election and certainly have lost of all sense of proportion. That is probably good for Trump in the long run because the average American is eventually going to experience mental fatigue at all the “shocking” accusations and “horrible” exposes the democrats will sling against the wall in the hope something sticks. A person can only listen to so much craziness before it becomes mind numbing and even irritating. It happened with Clinton and I think it is going to happen with Trump. Especially since Trump has tapped into a populist hunger that exists among many Americans. A few more nasty anti-Trump riots, some more sensational non-scandals, and most people will just stop listening to the democrat craziness.

      • “Complete nonsense, but thoughtful nonsense.”

        First of all, thank you for the nice compliment! Very kind of you.

        Second, you know how much I look forward to reading your comments in response to my comments. I felt deprived when you only said “Complete nonsense…” because it really didn’t say much at all. Since it isn’t complete nonsense at all, would you mind telling me why you arrived at that conclusion?

        I look forward to possibly hearing from you. Maybe?

        • Kellyanne Conway is collecting a taxpayer funded paycheck to act as a salesman for Chinese made goods from the taxpayer funded White House.

          There’s a bi-partisan call for an investigation, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). for example, is hardly a liberal.

          Your post was just another “liberals bother me” rant.

          I stand by my complete nonsense statement.

    • No, Steve, you need to drill down further into why Kellyanne Conway has become one of the more despicable faces of the Trump presidency / sham.

      This little dingbat has put herself out there like some clueless, aging cheerleader for this so-called president whose disrespect for women is undeniable. Most women, except for “conservative” white wingnut women (ex: Martha the Lion) find this completely abhorrent.

      So, assume that little Kellyanne deserves a letter of “reprimand” for hawking the so-called president’s daughter’s clothing line on national television. After all, it’s not like she’s been chatting up Russian ambassadors. But the truth is that the folks will give back when the time comes. And the time always comes.

      For anyone who wants to cry because little Kellyanne is being treated so unfairly, I give you the Birther Movement, the mother of all disrespect. And that’s just for starters.

      Kellyanne did something really stupid at the very least. And she is a liability to Trump’s administration, such as it is, because she is a joke on social media now and forever. Basically just another performer in this reality show presidency.

      • Another ironic feature of being a conservative is a short memory, yet their mascot is an elephant.

        Kellyanne Conway when she worked for Cruz said:

        Conway: Trump “Says He’s For The Little Guy But He’s Actually Built A Lot Of His Businesses On The Backs Of The Little Guy.”

        Conway stated that Trump had “actually built a lot of his business on the backs of the little guy” and has a history of “not paying contractors after [they have helped him] build something,” adding that “the little guys have suffered” because of Trump.

        Conway: Trump Victims Include “Victims Of Trump University, Victims Of Trump In Atlantic City.”

        Conway praised anti-Trump messaging, saying it’s that “gotten better” because people are “starting to talk about victims of Trump University, victims of Trump in Atlantic City.” Conway also continued highlighting Trump’s hypocrisy in claiming that he is “for the little guy,” when really he has built his business “on the backs of the little guy.”

        Conway: “I Would Like To See” Trump’s Tax Returns “Be Transparent.”

        Conway criticized Trump’s failure to release his tax returns, saying, “I would like to see those be transparent.” She also castigated Trump’s “unpresidential” rhetoric, referencing the time when he “insulted [his opponents] as ‘lying Ted’ and John Kasich ‘who eats like this slob.’”

        Conway Condemned Trump For “Hurl[ing] Personal Insults” And Using “Vulgar” Language That Was “Unfortunate For Children.”

        Conway reprimanded Trump for using “the p-word” at a rally, language she characterized as “unfortunate for children,” and claimed that voters “will think thrice now when they go into the ballot box.”

        Conway: Trump “Can Whine And Complain” By Saying “The System Is Rigged,” But “There’s No Place In Politics For Accusing Folks Of Using Gestapo Tactics.”

        Conway Accused The Trump Campaign Of Becoming Too “Cozy With The Establishment”: “Goodness, You’ve Hired Paul Manafort.”

        Conway charged the Trump campaign with “becoming a little cozy with the establishment” by hiring Paul Manafort as chairman.

        So much for an elephant never forgetting. Those are all from early 2016.

        Conway is scum and a fine example of what the GOP really means when they say “character matters”.

        • Yeah, Kellyanne actually made more sense before she decided to join Trump’s carnival.

          I agree. She’s scum. And who does she think she’s fooling?

      • I have a lot of respect for you, Liza, but this was not one of your better posts. You were all over the map without really saying anything other than you hate Trump and anyone associated with him more than you have ever hated anything in your entire life. I understand your visceral hatred of Trump and associates but simply repeating it over and over in different ways really doesn’t communicate ideas the way you normally do.

        I still say that, for the issue being discussed (her hawking clothing in an interview), the democrats are making wa-a-a-ay too much of it. It borders on the ludicrous.

        • To clarify, Kellyanne’s earned her spot on the hot seat. She actually did break an ethics rule that applies to her. But her deeper problem is that she works for and defends a man who is a racist and a misogynist, and she generally makes a fool of herself when she speaks. People such as her become easy targets in social media without sympathy because she is defending the Birther King who has brought disrespect to a whole other level. It’s payback time.

          That was my point about Kellyanne. In summary, may people, especially women, don’t care much why she goes down, they just want her gone.

          Trump has some very real problems that are not the invention of crazy Democrats. None of this is going away, as you seem to think.

          • “To clarify, Kellyanne’s earned her spot on the hot seat. It’s payback time.”

            I am a little saddened to read those words from you, Liza. I have been reading postings from conservative pundits where they speak at length about how liberals have come unhinged since the election. They say that liberals seem to have lost all ability to rationally cope with the loss and have thrown aside any pretense of having positions on issues, arguing for programs, or doing anything productive, and are simply out for a blood letting. They say liberals are now driven by raw blood lust, a desire for vengence, and a need to destroy a man and the people around him. I thought they exaggerated, but today has shown me that they are actually correct. Revenge and vengence is all that is driving the left now. Accomodation, discussion and bipartisanship have been thrown by the wayside in the drive to destroy Trump, even if it means destroying part of America in the process. That is both terribly sad and deeply frightening. I speak on occasion of a 2nd Civil War. Today has made me think that the fuse is there…all that remains is a match to light it.

            “None of this is going away, as you seem to think.”

            What I said was not that it would go away but that a significant portion of the American populace would grow tired of hearing about it. I don’t doubt for an instant that liberals will keep up their assault on Trump for the entire time he is in Office. I just think that most people will grow weary of hearing about it. It has happened before and I think it will happen again.

            In fact, I pray that it does because it could go the opposite way and we could wind up with a shooting war on our hands.

          • And lastly, to clarify, there are HRC supporters who are bitter and angry. The Democratic establishment is still in denial.

            But then there’s the rest of us who know that this wasn’t a loss to the other party, this was a loss to a con man.

            And half the GOP agreed prior to 11/8, you did too Steve.

            I don’t know what the word is, it’s not exactly disappointed, or sad, or horror, it’s some combination of those things.

            We didn’t elect a Republican, even you know that.

            It’s not the loss that’s freaking us out, and I personally hope we never hear a peep from the Clinton’s ever again.

            It’s the harsh lesson America is about to learn and the pain it will cause.

            Conservatives love America, liberals love Americans. We can see the heartbreak coming.

            You don’t want to admit it now, but you’ll look back in a few years and feel different.

          • “And half the GOP agreed prior to 11/8, you did too Steve.”

            True. I have made no secret of the fact that I only voted for Trump because he wasn’t Hillary. And I usually don’t defend Trump as much as I defend the Office of the President. But I still don’t have as negative an opinion of Trump as you have, Tom.

            “Conservatives love America, liberals love Americans.”

            Also true. We just see things differently as to what is good for America. I have always said that, ideally, America is made up of a blend of liberal and conservative ideas.

            “You don’t want to admit it now, but you’ll look back in a few years and feel different.

            I certainly hope you are wrong about this, Tom.

          • Steve says, “Revenge and vengence is all that is driving the left now. Accomodation, discussion and bipartisanship have been thrown by the wayside in the drive to destroy Trump, even if it means destroying part of America in the process.”

            You must be confused, Steve. You appear to be describing right wing Republicans in Congress obstructing both of the Obama administrations from (2010 – 2016) when they took control of the House and later the Senate. And, yes, they did it with a reckless and insane willingness to destroy the country.

            Also, when I speak of paybacks I am merely describing human nature. After so many years of Trump’s extreme ugliness and disrespect for President Obama, do you really expect that people who supported PBO are not going to sling that stuff right back at him and his defensive line players?

            Aside from that, I am trying to imagine myself as an unhinged liberal who has “lost all ability to rationally cope with the loss etc…” and I’m now driven by raw blood lust, and so forth.

            I think that is a bit over the top, Steve.

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