(JTA) — An ethics watchdog has criticized Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Donald Trump, for promoting in the media products sold by his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump.
Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, wrote in a New York Daily News op-ed that his Washington, D.C.-based organization had filed a complaint against Conway with the Office of Government Ethics and the White House Counsel for plugging Ivanka Trump’s clothes and jewelry label on Fox News.
In a television interview, Conway urged viewers to buy the products amid attempts by critics of Donald Trump to promote a consumer boycott of his daughter’s label.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you … I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online,” Conway said in the interview held in the White House briefing room.
Bookbinder wrote in the op-ed that legally, “public officials should not use their offices for their own private gain or the private gain of others, and it’s hard to find a clearer case than this.” He added: “It should be a clear-cut case that Kellyanne Conway broke ethics rules by urging people to buy Ivanka Trump’s products.”
Ivanka Trump is Jewish and is married to Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump. She underwent an Orthodox conversion to Judaism in 2010 before marrying Kushner, who comes from an Orthodox Jewish home.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington was founded in 2003 by Melanie Sloan and Norman Eisen, the previous U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic. Eisen is Jewish.
On Thursday, Conway’s remarks drew a sharp and unusual rebuke from a top Republican lawmaker, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the Oversight Committee chairman in the House of Representatives. Chaffetz said the comments were “absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong” and “clearly over the line.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Conway had been “counseled on the subject” but did not say whether she would be disciplined. Spicer did not say why Conway’s statements had required the intervention, and the White House declined to answer further questions.
The luxury department stores Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Belk recently dropped the Ivanka Trump label, Racked reported last week. Nordstrom and Belk cited poor sales; Neiman Marcus did not explain its reasoning.
The developments came after months of campaigns on social media against Ivanka Trump, who has come under criticism for some remarks by her father deemed divisive or discriminatory, and incompatible with Ivanka Trump’s stated commitment to women’s rights.
On Wednesday, Donald Trump criticized Nordstrom for what he said was unfair treatment of his daughter.
“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom,” the president wrote on Twitter. “She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”