Kellyanne gets a pass: White House says Conway spoke "without nefarious motive" when plugging Ivanka Trump products

The White House has decided Conway should be off the hook for potentially violating ethics rules

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 1, 2017 5:37PM (EST)

 (AP/Carolyn Kaster/Evan Vucci)
(AP/Carolyn Kaster/Evan Vucci)

The White House has decided that counselor Kellyanne Conway should be off the hook for plugging Ivanka Trump's fashion line after the president's daughter was dropped by Nordstrom.

"Upon completion of our inquiry, we concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again," says the letter written to Office of Government Ethics Director Walter M. Shaub Jr. It was signed by Stefan C. Passantino, a deputy counsel for compliance and ethics for President Donald Trump.

"It is noted that Ms. Conway made the statement in question in a light, off-hand manner while attempting to stand up for a person she believed had been unfairly treated and did so without nefarious motive or intent to benefit personally," the letter continues. "Both before and after receiving your letter, I personally met with Ms. Conway and advised her that her comments regarding Ms. Trump's products implicated the prohibition on using one's official position to endorse any product or service. Ms. Conway has acknowledged her understanding of the Standards and has reiterated her commitment to abiding by them in the future."

The original letter by Shaub, which was dated Feb. 13, argued that Conway's actions could "establish a clear violation of the prohibition against misuse of position. I note that OGE's regulation on misuse of position offers as an example the hypothetical case of a Presidential appointee appearing in a television commercial to promote a product. Ms. Conway's actions track that example almost exactly." Shaub suggested that "disciplinary action" be considered for Conway.

During her Feb. 9 appearance on Fox News, Conway notoriously urged Americans to "go buy Ivanka's stuff!" She then added, "I hate shopping, I'm gonna get some myself today."


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Ivanka Trump Kellyanne Conway