The VICE Guide to Right Now

White House Cool with Kellyanne Conway's Ethics Violation Because It Was an Accident

Conway will, unsurprisingly, not be disciplined for giving Ivanka Trump a free ad on cable news.

by Eve Peyser
Mar 1 2017, 10:22pm

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty

Last month, White House advisor and SNL character Kellyanne Conway got herself into some hot water after Nordstorm dropped Ivanka Trump's clothing line and Conway responded by, in her own words, giving the collection "a free commercial" on FOX & Friends. "It's a wonderful line. I own some of it," she told the Trump-friendly morning show. "I'm going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online."

The federal code of ethics prohibits federal government employees from using "[their] public office for [their] own private gain, for the endorsement of any product." The director of the United States Office of Government Ethics wrote of the FOX & Friends flub, "There is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the standards of conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted."

Weeks later, the White House has decided not to discipline Kellyanne Conway for violating the federal code of ethics because, according to Stefan C. Passantino, the deputy counsel to the president, it was a mere accident, and she is "highly unlikely" to make the same mistake again.

"Ms. Conway made the statement in question 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," wrote Passantino in a letter to the US Office of Government Ethics obtained by CNN Money.

Elijah Cummings, a senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said, "It is a very bad sign that the president chose not to discipline Ms. Conway for blatantly violating the law. Other federal employees would likely be suspended for engaging in this conduct, and White House officials should not be held to a different standard."

Getting into minor scandals has become something of the Kellyanne Conway brand, whether it be sitting a couch kinda weird, telling a white nationalist "love you" on Twitter, or getting disinvited from TV shows for spreading misinformation, or in her own words, "alternative facts." But so far, nothing she does has appeared to have any real consequences.

Follow Eve Peyser on Twitter.

white house
kellyanne conway