Donald Trump

The QVC Presidency: KellyAnne Conway Hawking Ivanka's Fashion Line Is the Craziest Example Yet of Trump's Cronyism

"I'm just going to give a free commercial here: go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online," Conway said, possibly violating federal ethics laws.



Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, played the role of TV saleswoman during an appearance Thursday morning on Fox News, and may have broken federal ethics laws in the process.

Asked by the hosts of Fox And Friends to comment on the recent spat between the president and Nordstrom's—the department store decided this week to stop carrying Ivanka Trump's line of women's apparel because of declining sales, prompting a series of angry tweet from Ivanka's father—Conway did her best impression of a QVC host.

"Go buy Ivanka's stuff, is what I would tell you," Conway said. "It's a wonderful line. I own some of it."

As the host of the show attempted to interrupt her, Conway continued her pitch.

"I'm just going to give a free commercial here: go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online," she said.

Federal ethics laws prohibit public employees from using their positions "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 nongovernment capacity." On the face of it, Conway seems to have violated that law. She's a senior adviser to the president and when she speaks to the media, as she was doing Tuesday from the White House's briefing room, she is doing so with the weight of the presidency behind her words. Singing the praises of Ivanka's fashion line might not count as an endorsement, but the flat-out instruction to "go buy it today, everybody," is pretty clearly an attempt to influence the market for the private gain of a friend.

"It is wholly unacceptable—no ifs, ands, or butts about it," Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told NBC News on Thursday when asked about Conway's comments. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) the Democratic chairman of the same committee, sent a letter to Chaffetz on Thursday calling the incident "a textbook violation of government ethics laws and regulations enacted to prevent the abuse of an employee's government position."

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a D.C.-based good government nonprofit, filed a complaint with the Office of Government Ethics and White House Counsel's Office over Conway's decision to hawk Ivanka's products on-air.

Whether or not Conway faces any repercussions for her comments, the ethical issues at play here go well beyond the strict legal question of whether a law was broken.

This is, once again, evidence that the Trump administration has no qualms about using the office of the presidency for the personal enrichment of Donald Trump and his offspring. It's an almost cartoonish example of the government—of the president himself, and his staff—literally picking winners and losers.

From his deal-making with Carrier to his cajoling of American car companies doing manufacturing overseas, Trump has spent a good deal of time over the past three months attempting to mix business and politics in a more personal way than any president has before—or should.

"[Trump's] actions will almost certainly lead to more cronyism than we have now," warns David Henderson in the cover story of the most recent edition of Reason. "And it has disturbing implications both for our economic well-being and for our freedom."

Trump's willingness to engage in overt crony capitalism is worrisome enough when he's threatening trade embargoes or calling down the wrath of his Twitter followers on companies that get on his bad side. This week, things got worse. When Nordstrom's announced that it would stop carrying Ivanka's fashion line, the president immediately got involved.

Ethics laws that apply to members of Congress, executive officials, and White House employees like Conway don't cover the president, who is forbidden from accepting gifts from leaders of foreign nations but is otherwise left to make his own determinations about conflicts of interest.

That legal loophole, Jonathan Chait notes, allows Trump "to engage in wildly kleptocratic behavior without any legal consequences." When Conway does the same thing, as she did on Thursday, it's not merely unethical but possibly illegal.

Strong enforcement of those ethic rules might be the only thing that keeps Trump's kleptomaniac tendencies from spreading to the rest of his White House team. Congress should use this situation to make it clear there will be no tolerance for this behavior.

Still, there appears to be no line Trump is unwilling to cross, and that's a bigger problem with no easy solution--and little reason to think Trump will change.

"This is just another example of what looks like a disturbing pattern of this administration acting to benefit the businesses of the president's family and supporters," said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "Americans are unfortunately at the point where they have to question who the Trump administration is looking out for, the American people or the Trump family."

UPDATE: Chaffetz and Cummings just sent this letter to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, asking its director, Walter Shaub, to review Conway's statements and report his findings to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

NEXT: What Was Rand Paul Thinking in Voting for Jeff Sessions? That the A.G. Agrees With President Trump (Updated)

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  1. Hey Eric remember when Obama flogged for J.P. Morgan where he had his money?

    “JPMorgan is one of the best managed banks there is.”…..aged-banks


    2. Screaming “BUT OBAMAAAAAA” is just as retarded now as the progtard’s habit of screaming “BUT BOOOOOOOSH” was.

      Or are you, like the proggies that we love making fun of here, also under the delusion that tu quoque is a valid logical argument?

      1. CA,

        An image of individuals holding hands over ears and eyes comes to mind.

        With mouths wide open.

        Having written that, I add that several of the H&R commentators who typed the “Booosh” type of comments often made the occasional cogent and/or humorous contribution to these unhallowed threads.

      2. I have been trying to say this very same thing on here for days, but you have said it so much more elegantly. Thanks, asshole.

    3. the proper description for this sort of behavior is: Punching back twice as hard.

      Or, in game theory speak, it’s Tit for Tat.

  2. This whole thing was retarded with a backwards R and Conway should be canned for it. I also usually don’t mind Trump going after politicians with the tweets, but this was way over the line and someone (probably Ivanka) needs to tell him to cut it the fuck out. I mean all of this sincerely.

    Still, having said that…
    The QVC Presidency: KellyAnne Conway Hawking Ivanka’s Fashion Line Is the Craziest Only Example Yet of What Could Even Remotely be Considered Trump’s Cronyism FTFY

  3. This is so much worse than a president selling nights in the Lincoln bedroom in exchange for money, it’s sickening!

    1. Then surely it will receive at least as much scrutiny from fat-man radio.

  4. “may have broken federal ethics laws in the process.”

    I personally doubt you can prohibit what politicians says on the ground that their speech might be a violation of “public office”

    I’m confident that ethics violation means using the power of the public office – not merely holding public office.

  5. Whether or not Conway faces any repercussions for her comments, the ethical issues at play here go well beyond the strict legal question of whether a law was broken.

    Oh, whether or not Conway faces any repercussions, you damn sure are. John and SIV will be along shortly to tell you what a retarded lying piece of shit you are for criticizing Trump when there are so many other more important things you could be dealing with – if you weren’t such a lying piece of shit writing for a lying piece of shit magazine. And what about Obama and Hillary!?!? Huh? Huh? Yeah, I thought so.

    1. If Hillary was elected, this would have been John Podesta “suggesting” on MSNBC that Milo Yiannapepopolous should be renditioned and tortured. So I don’t know, I just don’t think some harmless shilling is all that bad.

    2. John and SIV will be along shortly to tell you what a retarded lying piece of shit you are for criticizing Trump when there are so many other more important things you could be dealing with – if you weren’t such a lying piece of shit writing for a lying piece of shit magazine.

      Looks like you beat us to it.

    3. Thanks. It should be noted that yesterday Trump tweeted something insulting to Nordstrom when the department store dropped Ivanka’s accessories line because her stuff wasn’t selling, largely because the typical Nordstrom’s customer won’t buy anything with the Trump label. Nordstrom’s stock gained about 4% as a result.

      And FWIW, it’s the cheesiness of the whole contretemps that bothers me. There was no reason for Trump to get involved and Conway could have simply deflected the question with “Ivanka is a good business manager and any questions you have about this should be directed to her.” Instead we will have days of debate on the merits of mid-price stiletto heels and some meh costume jewelry.

      1. There was no reason for Trump to get involved

        Umm what? People are boycotting his daughter’s products because they don’t like him, which is itself a dick move. Her stuff was selling fine until he became president, so don’t say it’s just about the quality or lack thereof of the items.

        1. Don’t you know it is rude to point out when someone is behaving rudely????

        2. No, actually her stuff started selling badly a year ago. Ivanka’s target demographic is far from the average Trump voter. If Ivanka and her father didn’t realize his running for President would badly damage her brand, more fools them. Ivanka in Nordstroms makes as much sense as Obama selling fishing waders in Cabela’s.

  6. Great. Let this kind of impropriety be their undoing. That’s much more entertaining than breaking laws regarding wars, or terrorism investigations, or the border, etc.

  7. As long as he doesn’t add to the racial divide through stupid fucking rhetoric (Trayvon could look like my son!), avoids class warfare gibberish, doesn’t attack countries to look cool, let him have this bone to chew on as bad as it is. It’s not like Obama didn’t engage in cronyism – hello Solyndra!

    1. Oh and sign dumb ass climate change protocols.

    2. Solyndra is one of those things that my Obot/Hillbot friends don’t talk about. Here it is on page 5,147 of the list.

    3. The language Obama used against the Zimmerman and the cops is a lot different from how Trump addresses black activists. Obama supported the victims, and cautioned the perpetrators but never went on an anti police rant and in some cases expressed his sympathies for cops killed by civilians. When did the Guilianis and Trumps ever do the opposite? The fact is one can nitpick cases like Ferguson, but there are so many cases where it is cut and dry that there were overreactions and in most cases it is usually black or mentally ill victims or both.

      Cops are such snowflakes. They engage in some pretty vile rhetoric on cop message boards but get bent out of shape over any criticism of their peers even when justified

      Same with Trump. He gets riled up over every insult, but this is a guy who wasted a lot of time over the birther nonsense instead of focusing on Obama’s legit mistakes. He insulted Obama and others will glee but can’t handle milder criticism in return??? Who is the think skinned snow flake here?

  8. LOL, on my list of Trump scandals this is pretty much at the fucking bottom. If you’re outraged over everything you’re outraged over nothing.

    I’m more concerned with the fucking Clinton Foundation then I am saying to buy my family member’s product line, especially after all the progs say to boycott the product line because it’s related to Trump.

  9. What Trump and Conway are doing here is wrong but, Jesus Christ, take a fucking Valium or something. This is getting Buzzeed level silly.

    1. Yeah, I’m of two minds here. It’s at best extremely tacky and seems like it could violate the letter of the ethics laws.

      OTOH, doesn’t it violate the letter of “endorsement of any product, service or enterprise” every time a federal officeholder or employee goes to some factory for a photo op and gives a speech about how “this is a great company making great products with American workers”? Or, for that matter, just goes for a photo op at a local restaurant somewhere and tells reporters that the food was great?

      And, like those situations, Conway (i) isn’t spending federal money on these products and (ii) doesn’t have any direct financial interest in Ivanka’s company, nor a paid endorsement deal.

    2. And Trump never made a big deal about other people’s minor mistakes?

  10. Then let’s throw the book at Amash and Rand Paul for the blurbs I’ve seen from both of them on remaindered libertarian new releases. Or are books not grubby commerce.

  11. Oh for the love of God. If the worst thing that the Trump administration does is have Kellyanne Conway go out and encourage people to buy Ivanka Trump’s jewelry for the next four years, it will be the most pristine on the topic of cronyism in my lifetime. There’s a move by the administration’s opponents to push a boycott of Ms. Trump’s products (so much for the family and children of politicians being off limits). Conway encouraged a buycott in response. The HORROR! Of course, if Conway simply called a couple of friendly bloggers to actually do the encouraging, it would all be considered totally appropriate.

    1. I wonder what would win out: The boycott or encouragement.

      1. Honestly, I don’t know enough about the price point or target market for Ivanka Trump jewelry to even hazard a guess.

    /modern style-guide

    1. I am so stealing that.

  13. Who pays her salary?

    Who asked her about Nordstrom’s & the Trumps?

  14. I’m not a fan of Conway doing this, and filing an ethics complaint over it seems reasonable to me.

    But I’d much prefer that Eric put “good government” in scare quotes or refer to CREW as a “self-described good government group.” It’s one thing to agree with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on this issue, but CREW supports quite a few anti-libertarian positions in the name of “good government”. Like many such organizations, it wants “money out of politics” without much concern about how that violates free speech rights.

    CREW’s policy page calls for “better rules and better enforcement of the rules to prevent anonymous transmission of money for political activities through non-profits and shell companies”. Doesn’t that sound like a group that would be all for mandatory donor disclosure for lots of public policy groups, including the Reason Foundation?

    CREW’s also a big fan of public financing of election campaigns –

    Letting CREW claim the descriptor “good government” implies that a host of limits on political speech are “good government”.

  15. If you’re Kellyanne Conway and you think everyone is out to get you, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re paranoid.

    1. she doesn’t think everyone is out to get her. she’s just willing to say ridiculous shit for money.

  16. Ok, this is a legitimate if very minor scandal, but wtf is up with calling him a kleptomaniac kleptocrat?

  17. Seriously? This is an ethics violation? This is an “endorsement” of a product? Especially in light of the context? The words “de minimis” come to mind.

  18. i just want to say again how amazing it is to me that we ever put ourselves in this situation where a president could conceivably have such conflicts and it’s not addressed, or inadequately addressed, by our laws.

    whatever one thinks of trump, or this situation specifically, it’s rather pathetic that our ethics laws are this poorly written.

  19. but the flat-out instruction to “go buy it today, everybody,” is pretty clearly an attempt to influence the market for the private gain of a friend.

    “Pretty clearly” my ass. It was arguably just a joke, and I can’t imagine how one would expect this to help Ivanka’s sales.

    God almighty, this triviality is what Reason is reduced to covering? Do you all have any self-respect left? You seem to just be chasing after whatever the leftist media chases after these days.

  20. Do you even read the comments here reason? Come on. You are missing out on some valuable feedback if you do not. This article is an example of pure shite, I am sorry I am even adding to it in any way. Let basic tenets of libertarian thoughts be a guide.

  21. For those of us who aren’t obsessively following royal family gossip 24/7, could you give some evidence that this advisor and Ivanka are friends?

    Also the line “because of declining sales” appears to be taking sides in an argument.

  22. People are decrying the ‘tu quoque’ aspect of pointing out statements that Obama made

    They’re missing the point.

    It isn’t that Obama, and Clinton, and Bush, and Bush and Reagan, and Carter, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower… did it too.

    It’s that it’s only ever an issue in the media when the person doing it has an ‘R’ after their name. That’s the point. And it’s a real, valid issue–so many things are only issues when the person doing them has an ‘R’ after their names. Obama’s last droning–planned on his watch and executed right after Trump took office–a droning that would only have made the pages of the saner, non-TDS version of reason–was big news because the watch switched and all of a sudden a war death could be pinned on an ‘R’ again. A war Obama leapt into can now be assigned to an ‘R’.

    That’s a problem.

    Kellyanne’s blurb isn’t. It isn’t cronyism, or unethical, this is a person sticking up for a friend who’s being shat upon by the media industrial complex.

    No one’s being forced to buy anything, no contracts are in the mix. no money changed hands.

    1. It’s on its face against the law. Point to any other example of this kind of thing happening. And stop whining for Republicans’ sake. They haven’t done a goddamn thing for this country in half a century, and I defy you to name something.

  23. Kelly hawking Ivanka’s thongs, or some putrid, left-wing bitch from the DNC selling Marxism: Oh gee…this is a really hard decision for a real American.

  24. Our daily Mountain out of a Molehill hysteric from Reason, it’s almost beyond comical at this point.

  25. The QVC Presidency: KellyAnne Conway Hawking Ivanka’s Fashion Line Is the Craziest Example Yet of Trump’s Cronyism

    THE SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING!!!!!!1!111111!!!!1!!

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