The top lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), acted quickly and in a bipartisan manner to hold the executive branch accountable for wrongdoing by calling on the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to review potential ethics violations by White House staff. Perhaps more important, this demonstrated the willingness of at least one Republican Chairman to exercise oversight authority over a Republican administration.
Their request refers specifically to the personal endorsement by Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway of the Ivanka Trump brand in a Fox News appearance. Conway called her endorsement a “free commercial,” encouraging viewers to buy goods from the President’s daughter.
The Hill reported on the bipartisan letter sent to OGE Director Walter Shaub, Jr.:
In their joint letter, the two congressmen said Shaub should recommend an appropriate punishment to the White House because the case represents an “inherent conflict of interest” for President Trump. The disciplinary action, Chaffetz and Cummings wrote, could include “reprimand, suspension, demotion or dismissal.”
“Conway's statements clearly violate the ethical principles for federal employees and are unacceptable,” the letter says. “The White House's reported decision to counsel Conway supports this decision.”
The Project On Government Oversight requested an investigation into these possible ethics violations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday, as well as into possible ethics violations by Assistant to the President and Director of Social Media Dan Scavino, Jr., who also endorsed the personal business interests of Ivanka Trump.