Governmental Ethics Director Walter Shaub sent out a letter on Thursday to deputy White House counsel Stefan Passantino voicing his grave concern over the White House not taking action against Kellyanne Conway after she promoted Ivanka Trump’s merchandise in a TV interview. He said the move “risks undermining the ethics program.”
“I am more concerned about the extraordinary assertion that ‘many’ of OGE’s regulations are inapplicable to employees of the Executive Office of the President,” Shaub wrote in the letter.
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“The assertion is incorrect and the letter cites no legal basis for it,” he continued. “Presidential administrations have not considered it appropriate to challenge the applicability of ethics rules to the entire executive branch.”
Kellyanne Conway publicly promoted Ivanka Trump’s clothing line last month during an interview with “Fox & Friends.”
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I would tell you.” Conway said. “I hate shopping but I’m going to go get some for myself today.”
“I’m going to give it a free commercial here, go buy it today,” Conway said.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sent a letter to Shaub right after to ask the OGE to recommend that the White House discipline Conway for the violation.
Shaub also sent a letter to Chaffetz and House Oversight Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Thursday, saying that the ethics office could take no further action against Conway.
“When an agency declines to take disciplinary action against an employee in connection with an ethics violation, OGE’s only recourse is to notify the President,” he wrote.
“In this case, however, the White House’s response makes clear that disciplinary action will not be taken.”