White House counselor Kellyanne Conway encouraged people to "go buy Ivanka's stuff" during an interview with Fox and Friends Thursday.
Conway used her appearance on the morning show to promote Ivanka Trump's brand, a day after President Trump used the official @POTUS account to slam Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's clothing line.
"It's a wonderful line, I own some of it... I'm just going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online," Conway said.
Press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that Conway was "counseled" for her comments, but did not elaborate.
The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Jason Chaffetz, called Conway's promotion of Ivanka's brand, "clearly over the line, unacceptable," the Associated Press reported.
Chaffetz and Cummings later sent a letter to the OGE, calling on the office to investigate and recommend discipline.
"As director of the OGE, you have authority to review potential ethics violations and notify the employee's agency, which in this case is the White House. In this case, there is an additional challenge, which is that the President, as the ultimate disciplinary authority for White House employees, has an inherent conflict of interest since Conway's statements relate to his daughter's private business. For this reason, we request that you use authority Congress granted to you under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, to 'recommend to the head of the officer's or employee's agency that appropriate disciplinary action (such as reprimand, suspension, demotion, or dismissal) be brought against the officer or employee,'" the letter said.
In a series of tweets, responding to a high volume "of contacts from citizens about recent events," the Office of Government Ethics said it did not have the authority to investigate "possible ethical violations."
“Conway’s encouragement to buy Ivanka’s stuff would seem to be a clear violation of rules prohibiting misuse of public office for anyone’s private gain," Don W. Fox, former general counsel and former acting director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) told the Washington Post.
Chris Lu, a former Obama administration official, said that he and his White House colleagues "would've been fired" if they did what Conway had done. "Then again, our boss cared about ethics," Lu added.
Norman Eisen, Obama White House ethics czar, told MSNBC that Conway "is going to need to be disciplined" for violating federal law.
Eisen also criticized Donald Trump Jr. for attacking Nordstrom by tweeting a Breitbart story about women reportedly planning to boycott the retailer.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the OGE and the White House Counsel's Office, urging them to investigate Conway's "apparent violation of federal law" and "take any necessary disciplinary action."
"As the law makes clear, public officials should not use their offices for either their own private gain or the private gain of others," CREW said in the complaint to the White House Counsel. "Ms Conway appears to have violated both the letter and the spirit of these rules when she used her position to endorse the accessories and clothing line of Ms. Trump, the daughter of the president."
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
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