A San Francisco clothing retailer has filed a class-action lawsuit against Ivanka Trump’s clothing and accessory company, accusing the operation of unfair competition because of her connections to the White House.
Modern Appealing Clothing claims that the first daughter’s company, Ivanka Trump Marks, has gained an “unfair advantage” in the marketplace by leveraging the influence of the presidency.
“President Donald J. Trump and his individual and White House employees and agents have, since the election, promoted defendant Ivanka Trump’s brand by exploiting the power and prestige of the White House,” read the complaint, filed last week in San Francisco Superior Court. The suit also accuses company employees of “piggy backing” product promotions on government events.
The lawsuit points to a company sales boost after Donald Trump slammed Nordstrom department store on Twitter in February for dumping his daughter’s products. It also cites Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway’s touting of Ivanka Trump products during an interview on national TV. “I’m going to give a free commercial here,” Conway said on Fox News. “Go buy it today, everybody.”
Sales of Ivanka Trump products soared 346 percent from January to February compared with the same period last year because she and her family are exploiting their White House connections, the lawsuit states.
“As a result of their unlawful acts, defendants have reaped and continue to reap unfair benefits and illegal profits at the expense of plaintiff MAC and the class it seeks to represent,” said the 11-page complaint. “That advantage is specifically prohibited by the Constitution and laws of the United States ... and California.”
The lawsuit seeks to represent a class including all women’s clothing and accessory companies that operated in California between November 9, 2016 ― the day after the election — through the date of trial. The suit is seeking restraining orders barring Ivanka Trump’s brand from continuing to compete unfairly in California and seeks unspecified damages.
Ivanka Trump’s company has not commented on the suit.
Ivanka Trump is maintaining ownership of all her businesses, just as her father is, though she served on the Trump transition team and appears about to take a new role in the White House. She has been given an office, security clearance and government-issued phones or computers, Politico reported Monday.
She has placed her company in a trust — though not a blind trust — run by relatives of her husband yet continues to wield significant power over her brand, The New York Times reported.
The unfair competition lawsuit represents an intriguing legal strategy to address concerns about conflicts of interest in the White House as the president — and family members — remain private business owners while also being charged with the task of fairly representing the public.