Ivanka Trump is getting an unpaid White House job, will "voluntarily comply" with ethics laws

Like her husband and Trump's son-in-law, Ivanka's new White House role raises serious ethical questions

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 21, 2017 11:42AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump, who has already appointed senior advisers as "commissars" to make sure his cabinet officers are sufficiently loyal to him, will now have his daughter Ivanka Trump as his "eyes and ears" in the White House. What he won't do, however, is pay her as an official member of the White House staff — meaning she will not be legally required to abide by ethical rules.

Ivanka Trump's attorney Jamie Gorelick said that the first daughter will be the president's "eyes and ears," according to Politico. She will serve as an all-purposes adviser to the president and will work out of the White House but will not be on the official payroll.

"Having an adult child of the president who is actively engaged in the work of the administration is new ground," Gorelick told Politico on Monday. "Our view is that the conservative approach is for Ivanka to voluntarily comply with the rules that would apply if she were a government employee, even though she is not." Measures taken will include divesting her common stock, tech investments, and investment funds, although Gorelick conceded that Ivanka doesn't "believe it eliminates conflicts in every way. She has the conflicts that derive from the ownership of this brand. We’re trying to minimize those to the extent possible."

Norm Eisen, the former ethics czar to President Barack Obama, told Politico that the problem with this approach is that "they're not saying she's going to voluntarily subject herself to ethics rules to be nice. There’s recognition that they're in very uncertain territory here. The better thing to do would be to concede she is subject to the rules. It would create some outside accountability, because if she can voluntarily subject herself to the rules, she can voluntarily un-subject herself to the rules."

There have already been questions about Ivanka's potentially unethical behavior since her father was elected president. Her company promoted a bangle bracelet that she wore during a post-election "60 Minutes" interview, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway urged viewers to "Go buy Ivanka's stuff!" after the Trump brand was dropped by Nordstrom, and she is facing a class action lawsuit by Modern Appealing Clothing (MAC) in San Francisco on the grounds that her firm has used their ties to the White House for an "unfair advantage."

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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Conflicts Of Interest Donald Trump Ivanka Trump