Did Kellyanne Conway Violate Federal Ethics Regulations?

The Office of Government Ethics has said that disciplinary action against Kellyanne Conway appears to be warranted for statements she made which appear to violate her position as a federal employee.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter today to the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) calling for a review of statements that Kellyanne Conway made on TV which appeared to be in support of Ivanka Trump’s products.

The letter was sent by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD). The Congressmen were concerned about comments that Conway, who is the Counselor to President Trump, made in a television interview which appeared to support Ivanka Trump’s products.

In the letter, the Congressmen wrote:

In the course of the interview, Conway repeatedly and explicitly endorsed Ivanka Trump’s products. She stated, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you.” Later, she said, “It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it. I fully – I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.” Conway’s statements clearly violate the ethical principles for federal employees and are unacceptable.

The Congressmen also added that the statements appear to violate federal ethics regulations which prohibit actions that imply a government endorsement of the “personal activities” of somebody else. In this case, because Ivanka Trump is the president’s daughter, the Congressmen said that the situation creates “an inherent conflict of interest since Conway’s statements relate to his daughter’s private business.”

The letter also requested that OGE report back to the Committee with any disciplinary actions that it might recommend against Conway if the agency determined any were warranted.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a press conference that Conway had been “counseled on the subject” but did not say whether or not he thought she would be disciplined.

Conway said in a tweet this morning that she has the support of the president:

A video clip of the interview in question with Conway is posted above. The relevant portion starts around the 7:25 mark.


The Office of Government Ethics sent a letter on February 13 to White House Deputy Counsel to the President and Designated Ethics Official Stefan Passantino in which it recommended disciplinary action. The agency said in the letter, “Under the present circumstances, there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted.”

The letter also noted that OGE has not received notification of any disciplinary action taken against Conway.

The House Oversight Democrats distributed a copy of the OGE letter via their Twitter account (below).

The White House Counsel’s Office concluded that Conway acted “inadvertently” with her endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s products, indicating that it has declined to discipline Conway for her remarks.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.