POLITICS

Watchdog Group Files Ethics Complaint Over Ivanka Trump's Product Plug

The White House adviser violated ethics rules by endorsing a private company, said Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Ivanka Trump plugs Goya black beans after the head of the company praised President Trump.
Ivanka Trump plugs Goya black beans after the head of the company praised President Trump.

A complaint accusing Ivanka Trump of a federal ethics violation by brazenly promoting Goya beans on her social media accounts has been filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The first daughter on Tuesday tweeted a selfie posing with a can of Goya Foods’ black beans with the company’s promotional message: “If it’s Goya, it’s got to be good” in English and Spanish. She posted the same thing on Instagram. 

The product-plugging message by President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser followed calls to boycott Goya products last week after company CEO Robert Unanue gushed that the nation was “blessed” to have Trump as president. The president followed up the next day with his own Goya pitch from the Oval Office.

CREW characterized the first daughter’s product plug as a “misuse of public office” in a letter Friday to Emory Rounds, the director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.

Ivanka Trump “appears to have clearly violated the Standards of Conduct barring her from using her government position, title or any authority associated with her public office to endorse any product, service, or enterprise,” CREW wrote.

The letter noted that Trump uses her Twitter and Instagram accounts for “official government purposes.” So Trump’s endorsement of the company’s product would “lead any reasonable person to conclude her Goya Foods posts represented an official government endorsement intended to counteract the negative effect of any boycott,” CREW wrote.

CREW called on Rounds to request the White House counsel to investigate and “consider appropriate disciplinary action against Ms. Trump.”

Ivanka Trump could not immediately be reached for comment.

Former OGE Director Walter Shaub declared Thursday in a Washington Post op-ed that Trump’s behavior flat-out “violated an executive branch ethics regulation prohibiting employees from misusing their official positions to endorse commercial products.” Shaub argued that part of the point of the stunt was to send the message that “rules don’t apply” to the Trumps — or to the Republican administration.

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