Freer to speak now that he works for a nonprofit, former Office of Government Ethics chief Walter Shaub is continuing his attacks on the Trump family’s business practices that overlap with their federal service.
The issue this time is an alleged conflict of interest over the use of social media by Ivanka’s clothing company to showcase her outfits worn at political or White House events—promotion that usually boosts sales.
In a CNN interview on Monday highlighted on Raw Story, Shaub zeroed in on a recent Wall Street Journal investigation examining the impact of Trump’s outfits displayed in her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram postings between March 29, when she began her role as White House adviser to her father, and Oct. 31. Like the president, Ivanka Trump declined to divest herself of her companies but placed them in a family-run trust.
“Every time she steps out sporting Ivanka Trump merchandise, Ms. Trump—wittingly or not—is a walking billboard for her brand, and an example of the conflicts that arise when government employees have both public and private professional interests,” the Journal wrote.
Shaub, now with the Campaign Legal Center, called the arrangement “the definition of corruption” and warned the Trump White House that such actions come close to ethical violations. “We’re in this situation because she is one of the rare government appointees in the White House who has not divested her financial interests,” said Shaub. While Ivanka Trump is free to wear whatever she pleases, he added, her federal job places a higher burden on her to be aware of such potential conflicts.
The issue arose during the 2016 Republican National Convention when Ivanka Trump was criticized for tweeting a photo of herself delivering a speech with the line, “Shop Ivanka’s look from her RNC speech.”
In a statement to the Journal, Ivanka Trump said,‘“If what motivated me was to grow my businesses and make money, I would have stayed in New York and done just that.”
Shaub dismissed her statement, saying it conflicts with the “core principle of the ethics program is that you’re not supposed to misuse your government position for private gain.” He criticized a Justice Department decision not to apply the half-century-old prohibitions on nepotism to Trump’s hiring of his son-in-law and daughter for powerful, if unpaid, White House positions.
Citing President Trump’s continued profiting from the leased-from-the-government Trump International Hotel in Washington and his decision soon after winning the election to raise the fees at his Florida Mar-a-Lago club, Shaub said, “None of these things are happening in a vacuum. What we’re seeing across the board is an effort to monetize the presidency . . . The only reason people are paying higher membership fees or higher fees for the New Year’s Eve party, or above-market rates to stay in his hotel in Washington, is they want to purchase access to the president.”