Ranking House Oversight Committee member requests review of Kellyanne Conway’s ‘free commercial’

Ranking House Oversight Committee member requests review of Kellyanne Conway’s ‘free commercial’
Ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting to organize for the 115th Congress. (Getty Images/Bill Clark)

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, asked the Committee to review whether President Donald Trump’s senior adviser broke federal ethics laws Thursday morning when she promoted Trump’s daughter’s business.

Kellyanne Conway encouraged Fox News’ morning viewership to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” Thursday morning in response to multiple retailers scaling back or dropping Ivanka Trump’s clothing line entirely.

Experts said Conway could have violated federal ethics laws with her “free commercial” from the White House briefing room promoting Ivanka Trump’s brand.

In a letter to committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Cummings implored Chaffetz to review Conway’s statement and offer “potential disciplinary action.”

“This appears to be a textbook violation of government ethics laws and regulations enacted to prevent the abuse of an employee’s government position,” Cummings said in the letter.

He added:

Since the Committee has direct jurisdiction over the ethics law applicable to White House employees, I request that the Committee make an official referral of this matter to the Office of Government Ethics and request that it report back to the Committee as soon as possible with its findings.

Cummings said he requested a response by Feb. 10.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning watchdog organization, officially filed a complaint to the OGE Thursday as it alleges that Conway’s endorsements are “an apparent violation of federal law, ethics regulations and other standards of conduct.”

“The law is clear that public officials should not use their offices for their own private gain or the private gain of others,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. “It’s hard to find a clearer case of that kind of misuse of office than we saw today.”

Richard Painter, a former chief ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush, told TheBlaze earlier Thursday morning:

It is a violation of federal ethics regulations prohibiting use of public office for private gain for any government employee in an official speech, an official capacity TV interview or any similar communication to promote the products or services of a particular private business belonging to the employee’s own family, the president’s family, a friend, a campaign contributor or anyone else.

“That was strictly forbidden in the Bush administration because it is illegal,” Painter, now a professor of corporate law at the University of Minnesota, said.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer only said Thursday that Conway “has been counseled about” her comments.