White House claims Kellyanne Conway’s ‘free commercial’ for Ivanka’s products was just an accident

Conway’s comments appeared to be an egregious violation of ethics law, but the White House is going to let it slide.

Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller, both senior advisers to President Donald Trump, walk to a news conference with President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on February 10. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller, both senior advisers to President Donald Trump, walk to a news conference with President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on February 10. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Last month, Fox News brought on White House counselor Kellyanne Conway to talk about Nordstrom’s decision to drop Ivanka Trump’s product line. Conway said she was “just gonna give a free commercial here.”

And that’s what she did, instructing viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I would tell you.”

“I hate shopping, but I am going to go get some myself today,” Conway said. “This is just — it’s a wonderful line, I own some of it, I’m just gonna give a free commercial here, go buy it today, you can buy it online.”

Her comments appeared to be an egregious violation of a federal ethics law prohibiting the endorsement of products by federal officials. The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) sent the White House a letter asking for an investigation and recommending that Conway be disciplined.

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But the White House won’t do it. In a letter dated February 28, White House deputy counsel Stefan Passantino claims the whole thing was just an accident.

“We concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again,” Passantino wrote. “Ms. Conway has acknowledged her understanding of the standards and has reiterated her commitment to abiding by them in the future.”

Conway’s comment was just one part of a team effort the White House made to smear Nordstrom after the company dropped Ivanka-branded products. And even after controversy erupted, President Trump let it be known that he still supported Conway.

The message was clear: Businesses that make decisions cutting against the financial interests of the president and his family will be subject to retribution.

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ABC reports that “while the OGE can still recommend a specific penalty for Conway to the White House, that recommendation would be non-binding.”