In the three weeks since Donald Trump took office, a lot of us have wondered–what could it possibly take for the GOP to break out of lockstep with Trump? Well, it looks like we have our answer. In case you missed it, White House senior adviser and information minister Kellyanne Conway has gotten sliced, diced, and julienned on social media for promoting First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s clothing line from the White House briefing room. In a rare moment of bipartisanship, both the Republican chairman and the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee asked for an ethics review of Conway’s shameless plug.
Within hours of Conway’s appearance on “Fox & Friends,” Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington filed a formal ethics complaint against her. Read it here. It accuses Conway of violating a smorgasbord of federal laws and ethics regulations which forbid public officials from using their offices for private gain or non-official purposes. CREW chairman Noah Bookbinder said that Conway’s actions were so egregious that “it’s hard to find a clearer case” of an ethics violation.
Apparently a lot of other people were alarmed as well. The Website of the federal ethics watchdog, the Office of Government Ethics, crashed on Thursday morning due to what it described as “an extraordinary volume of contacts” regarding “recent events.” It’s safe to assume what those events were; the site melted down within hours of Conway’s appearance.
At Thursday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer curtly said that Conway had been “counseled” about her remarks. Watch here.
That wasn’t good enough for the Oversight Committee’s ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland. He rushed out with a burning letter to committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, contending that Conway had engaged in “a textbook violation of government ethics laws and regulations.”
Thankfully, Chaffetz needed little prodding. The Utah Republican minced no words in an interview with NBC News.
“That was wrong, wrong, wrong. It is wholly unacceptable–no if, ands or buts about it. It should have never happened, and they better learn this lesson very quick.”
By the end of the day, Chaffetz and Cummings had fired off a letter to the federal Office of Government Ethics regarding their “extremely serious concerns” about Conway’s “unacceptable” behavior, which could easily be construed as “an explicit endorsement and advertisement” for Ivanka’s clothing line. Chaffetz isn’t sure where this will go, but described the letter as a first step toward holding Conway to account.
I seem to recall one of Trump’s favorite lines during the campaign, “Many people are saying…” Well, it looks like many people on both sides of the aisle are saying that Kellyanne stepped way over the line.
(featured image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)