Group Demands Disciplinary Action for Using Official Position to Advertise Personal Clothing Line; Seeks Ethics Probes Into Possible Coordination With Fashion Websites
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Democracy Forward demanded that the United States Office of Government Ethics recommend immediate disciplinary action against Ivanka Trump for abusing her public position as Advisor to President Trump by promoting her personal clothing line, IT Collection LLC. In its letter, the group also called on ethics officers to investigate whether Ivanka Trump coordinated with celebrity style blogs to showcase images of her public appearances to drive sales of her brand’s merchandise.
The letter follows a recent analysis of Ivanka Trump’s social media activity, which revealed that nearly 70 percent of Ms. Trump’s posts feature an item from her namesake clothing line worn during her official government appearances. These photos are then frequently used by style publications, such as StarStyle, to link consumers with retailers selling Ms. Trump’s merchandise. The letter seeks to expose any contact or coordination between Ms. Trump, her company, and the style publications using her images.
“Ivanka Trump appears to be breaking ethics rules by using her official status to source advertisements that line her pockets,” said Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy. “Her official duties are supposed to benefit American taxpayers, and she should not exploit this position for personal financial gain.”
Ivanka Trump has not fully divested from the IT Collection LLC and continues to receive substantial payments from her company, including income between $1 – 5 million in the Spring of 2017.
Democracy Forward requests that the Acting Director of Government Ethics, David Apol:
- Investigate any direct contact or coordination between Ms. Trump and her company and/or celebrity style publications regarding the use of images she posts in her official capacity promoting her products.
- Recommend the White House take “appropriate disciplinary action” against Ms.Trump for violating federal ethics rules, which, as outlined in the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, could include “reprimand, suspension, demotion, or dismissal.”
- Recommend Ms. Trump’s complete and full divestment from the IT Collection LLC.
The letter was submitted to the United States Office of Government Ethics on January 22, 2018.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.