After she exhorted Fox News viewers last month to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” Kellyanne Conway escaped any significant punishment for having violated government ethics rules, as White House attorneys reminded her of the regulations in two conversations and then sent her on her way.
“We concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again,” Stefan Passantino, the deputy White House counsel, wrote to Walter Shaub, head of the Office of Government Ethics, in a letter. He added that she made the statement “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.”
Conway’s remarks on Fox came under scrutiny from both sides of the aisle, with Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, scolding her for violating federal ethics rules on making commercial promotions. Shaub’s office initially asked the White House counsel to look into the matter, and is said to be assessing whether her talking-to was an appropriate punishment.
The House Oversight Committee’s ranking Democrat criticized the White House move in comments to Politico. “It’s a very bad sign that the president chose not to discipline Ms. Conway for blatantly violating the law,” Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings said. “Other federal employees would likely be suspended for engaging in this conduct, and White House officials should not be held to a different standard.”