(Corrects paragraph 19 to show HSN Inc has dropped Trump Home
products, but still sells Trump presidential memorabilia; it did
not sell Ivanka Trump products.)
By Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON Feb 9 A congressional committee said
on Thursday it was seeking a review into whether senior White
House adviser Kellyanne Conway had violated ethics rules by
using her position to promote product lines of President Donald
Trump's daughter Ivanka, a day after he attacked a retailer for
Federal ethics rules prohibit executive branch employees
from using their positions to endorse products or for the
private gain of friends. The law does not apply to the
"Go buy Ivanka's stuff ... I'm going to go get some myself
today," Conway told Fox News in an interview from the White
House. "I'm going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it
Republican Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House of
Representatives Oversight committee, said late on Thursday in a
statement he had agreed to a request by a member of the panel to
ask the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to review Conway's
comments and recommend disciplinary action against her if
Chaffetz and Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the
committee, said in their letter to the ethics office: "Conway’s
statements appear to violate federal ethics regulations, which
prohibit actions that imply a government endorsement of the
‘personal activities’ of another person.”
"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,” they said.
The OGE did not respond to requests for comment.
Asked at a press briefing on Thursday if Conway had crossed
an ethical line, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said,
"She has been counseled on that subject, and that's it."
Conway, asked in an interview on Fox News on Thursday
evening how she had been counseled, replied: "I'm not going to
comment on that.”
She said she was aware of the letter from Chaffetz and
Cummings and that it was being reviewed internally.
"I'm just really happy that I spent an awful lot of time
with the president of the United States this afternoon and that
he supports me 100 percent,” she added.
The non-profit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in
Washington and Public Citizen have both filed complaints with
the OGE and the White House Counsel's Office.
"It's a violation of the rule," Norman Eisen, who served as
an ethics adviser to Democratic President Barack Obama, told
MSNBC. "It's a serious matter."
On Wednesday, President Trump attacked department store
chain Nordstrom Inc for dropping his daughter's
products, drawing intense criticism for using a White House
twitter platform to intervene in a commercial matter involving
his family's business ties.
Nordstrom said it dropped the brand for its poor
Online sales of Ivanka Trump branded products fell 26
percent in January 2017 compared with the same period a year
earlier, according to retail analytics firm Slice Intelligence
which shared its findings with Reuters. The company analyzed
data from email receipts of over 4 million U.S. online shoppers.
The data also showed sales of the Ivanka Trump brand
declined in the second half of 2016 at all online retailers
including Amazon.com Inc, which sells most of the
brand's merchandise. In-store sales of the Ivanka Trump brand
was not available.
Ivanka Trump had said she would step away from her company
when her father took office in the White House.
Retailers that have dropped Ivanka Trump products include
Neiman Marcus. HSN Inc has stopped selling
Trump Home products, but still sells Trump presidential
An ongoing campaign called #GrabYourWallet encourages
shoppers to boycott products with ties to President Trump and
his family. Supporters have launched an alternative social media
campaign called #BuyIvanka.
President Trump has pledged to ensure that products sold in
America are actually manufactured on U.S. soil, but a New York
Times report in December found that many of Ivanka Trump branded
products were made in China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Ivanka Trump's company declined to comment where her goods
(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Cornwell, Mohammad
Zargham and Eric Walsh in Washington, Angela Moon in New York)