Kellyanne Conway: Did she break federal law on endorsements?

Claim:  Democrats and liberals claim that Kellyanne Conway violated federal law by making an endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s products.

Rank: TrueA number of left leaning blogs are reporting on a potential violation of federal law by Kellyanne Conway for endorsing products of Ivanka Trump.  Conway appeared on Fox and Friends program on the Fox News channel.  In a segment about the #GrabYourWallet movement and how it was being unfair to Ivanka. In the video found on the site for Fox & Friends, the quote starts around 7:30.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: But you asked about Ivanka. I visited with her yesterday. This is a very successful business woman twice. Obviously she stepped away from it now, but in the past she has helped to run her family’s real estate empire and on the side, she developed another fully unbelievably entrepreneurial wildly success business that bears her name. And I think she has gone from 800 stores to 1,000 stores, or 1,000 places where can you buy. You can certainly buy her goods online. And she’s just at a very good place. She’s an incredibly confident, creative, talented woman who also supports her father’s presidency and realizes that there are bigger issues that he is going to tackle and if she decides and it works for her family, she comes inside the White House here. She knows people like Dina Powell and me who will be working with her to help on women empowerment. Women and girls. I do find it ironic that you have got some executives all over the internet bragging about what they have done to her and her line and, yet, they are using the most prominent woman in Donald Trump’s, you know, most prominent, his daughter. And using her who has been a champion empowerment, women in the work place to get to him. So I think people can see through that.

CONWAY: Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you. I hate shopping, I will go get some myself today.

CONWAY: This is just — it’s a wonderful line, I own some of it, I’m just gonna give a free commercial here, go buy it today, you can buy it online.

Kellyanne Conway made an endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s products by encouraging people to buy it and saying that she will buy some as well.  She even says that it is a free commercial.  The question of whether or not she violated federal law still remains.

The law that is being claimed that she violated from the Code of Federal Regulations, 5 CFR 2635.702 (Use of public office for private gain).

An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member, and persons with whom the employee has or seeks employment or business relations. The specific prohibitions set forth in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section apply this general standard, but are not intended to be exclusive or to limit the application of this section.

This law would apply to Conway if she is an employee.  By the definition of employee in 5 CFR 2635.102, it appears that she might fit the definition.

(h)Employee means any officer or employee of an agency, including a special Government employee. It includes officers but not enlisted members of the uniformed services. It includes employees of a State or local government or other organization who are serving on detail to an agency, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 3371, et seq. For purposes other than subparts B and C of this part, it does not include the President or Vice President. Status as an employee is unaffected by pay or leave status or, in the case of a special Government employee, by the fact that the individual does not perform official duties on a given day.

In addition, Conway was on Fox and Friends in an official capacity as the Counselor to the President and she was presented on the air using that title.  Additionally, she was performing the interview from the White House briefing room with the White House placard behind her.

It is very likely that she did violate federal law and the evidence strongly supports that claim.  It is indisputable that Conway made a product endorsement while acting in an official capacity as a representative of the White House.  Many experts are being reported saying that this was a violation of the law and it has been reported that she was “counseled” for this endorsement.

References

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