'She knows better': Ex-ethics chief Walter Shaub says Ivanka Trump broke rule by promoting Goya beans




  • In Business
  • 2020-07-15 17:53:01Z
  • By USA TODAY
 

Ivanka Trump is facing questions of whether she violated White House ethics rules as a result of a social media post that promoted Goya Foods, whose CEO angered opponents of President Donald Trump last week by praising the president at an event.

The White House adviser and president's oldest daughter on Tuesday posted an image of herself on Twitter holding aloft a can of Goya black beans, along with a caption featuring the company's slogan, "If it's Goya, it has to be good," in both English and Spanish.

People who were angered by the Goya CEO's comments at a Hispanic business event at the White House last week have called for a boycott of the company.

Robert Unanue, the chief executive at Goya, said at the event: "We're all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder."

As social media users attacked that comment by using the hashtag #BoycottGoya, Unanue said he would not apologize and called the boycott attempt "suppression of speech."

Ivanka Trump's post drew swift reaction on social media, including from several critics who maintained it was a violation of a rule that prohibits executive branch employees from using their position for the "endorsement of any product, service or enterprise."

"Yes, the Goya tweet was an ethics violation," tweeted Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, who resigned less than seven months after Trump took office.

Shaub said that because Ivanka Trump often uses her Twitter account to conduct official business and includes her job description in her profile, "Ms. Trump's Goya tweet is clearly a violation of the government's misuse of position regulation."

The White House said Wednesday that Ivanka Trump's tweet was merely a reflection of her personal preference.

"Only the media and the cancel culture movement would criticize Ivanka for showing her personal support for a company that has been unfairly mocked, boycotted and ridiculed for supporting this administration - one that has consistently fought for and delivered for the Hispanic community," White House spokeswoman Carolina Hurley said in a statement.

"Ivanka is proud of this strong, Hispanic-owned business with deep roots in the U.S. and has every right to express her personal support."

The president also has expressed his support for the company, tweeting on Friday: "I LOVE @GoyaFoods!"

"@GoyaFoods is doing GREAT," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "The Radical Left smear machine backfired, people are buying like crazy!"

Jordan Libowitz, communications director for the nonprofit watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said of Ivanka Trump's posting: "It appears that Ivanka tweeted an endorsement of a product in her official government capacity. That would be a violation of the government's misuse of position regulation. And it further sends the message that senior Trump officials believe that government ethics don't apply to them."

Libowitz told USA TODAY the organization planned to file an official complaint about the tweet with the Office of Government Ethics.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., weighed in on the controversy with a play on the company's slogan.

"If it's Trump, it has to be corrupt," she tweeted in Spanish.

Former Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said it was a "clear violation."

"Both parties should call this out or we end up like a banana republic. Surely they know better," he tweeted.

Shaub said "it would be disingenuous for anyone to argue that you weren't making an official endorsement" in light of the tweet's context.

"If you tout the company's product in an obvious response to the backlash the company is facing for the CEO's remarks about your father-president, you knowingly link your account in people's minds to your official activities,'' Shaub said "You create the appearance of official sanction.

"Ms. Trump has had ethics training. She knows better. But she did it anyway because no one in this administration cares about government ethics."

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway suffered no consequences under the ethics requirements after she urged "Fox & Friends" viewers to "go buy Ivanka's stuff" in February 2017 even though Shaub - who was then still at the helm of the Office of Government Ethics - had determined the comment appeared to be "a clear violation of the prohibition against misuse of position."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ivanka Trump faces criticism and ethics questions for Goya beans tweet

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