White House won't discipline Conway for promoting Ivanka fashion line on TV

"Conway made the statement in question in a light, off-hand manner ... and did so without nefarious motive or intent to benefit personally," a White House ethics official said.
By Doug G. Ware   |   March 1, 2017 at 8:36 PM
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March 1 (UPI) -- The White House said it won't discipline senior presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway for promoting Ivanka Trump's fashion line during a political interview last month.

The announcement came Tuesday from the White House Counsel's Office, which had previously received a notification from the independent Office of Government Ethics about Conway's remarks. The ethics office said the comments violated a federal prohibition on civil servants promoting personal interests in their official capacity as a representative of the government.

Conway, 50, a top adviser to President Donald Trump, made the statements during a Feb. 9 appearance on the Fox News Channel's morning talk show, Fox and Friends. At the end of the interview, in which Conway spoke in her official capacity as senior counselor to the president, she encouraged people to buy Ivanka Trump's products.

"Go buy Ivanka's stuff. It's a wonderful line. I own some of it," she said. "I'm just going to give a free commercial here -- go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online."

The comments drew criticism from Republicans and Democrats who appealed to the ethics office for an investigation. On Feb. 13, the OGE said in a letter to the White House Counselor's Office that Conway's endorsement appeared to be a "clear violation" and recommended that the White House take disciplinary action.

Tuesday, though, the counselor's office said the prescribed discipline will not be coming -- because Conway never intended her comments to benefit Ivanka Trump's business.

"I have personally met with Ms. Conway to review the Standards of Conduct that employees of the Executive Office of the President are expected to follow," Stefan Passantino, deputy counsel to the president for compliance and ethics, said in a letter to the OGE. "We concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again.

"Ms. Conway made the statement in question in a light, off-hand 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."

Conway's comments were made just days after national retailer Nordstrom said it would no longer carry the fashion products made by the company of the president's 35-year-old daughter.

An independent office established to monitor ethics activity within the Executive branch, the OGE has no authority to actually implement disciplinary measures -- and can only recommend.

The ethics office can continue to pursue its recommendation that Conway be disciplined, but it was not immediately clear whether it will do so.

"Ms. Conway has acknowledged her understanding of the Standards and has reiterated her commitment to abiding by them in the future," Passantino added.

"We look forward to continuing to work with you and the Office of Government Ethics to ensure compliance with the highest ethical standards throughout government."

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