Press Releases

Lawmakers ask if the social media post constitutes an endorsement, violates ethics regulations

 

Inquiry follows March 2017 request from Carper, Warren, after which Ms. Trump became an official White House employee subject to the same ethics laws and regulations as all executive branch employees 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) regarding a tweet that Ivanka Trump, who serves as an advisor to the President and a White House official, sent on July 14, 2020 showing her holding a can of Goya beans. Specifically, the lawmakers want to know if the tweet constituted an endorsement, whether it violated ethics regulations that bar product endorsements by government officials, and whether OGE has provided training to White House staff regarding potential misuse of position.

Last week, Ms. Trump sent a tweet with an image of herself holding a can of Goya beans. The tweet also included the company’s motto. The tweet was posted just days after the CEO of Goya Foods, Robert Unanue, attended a White House event at which he praised President Trump’s leadership. OGE regulations prohibit federal employees from using their office to endorse any product, service, or enterprise, regulations that exist to avoid the appearance that government officials favor one product or service over another. 

In the letter, the senators wrote, “The timing of [Ms. Trump’s] remarks creates the appearance, at least, that praise for Trump Administration officials may elicit later endorsements from these same officials. In fact, on July 15, 2020, President Trump shared an image on Instagram of himself with several Goya products at the Resolute Desk.”

This latest inquiry follows a request that Senators Carper and Warren made of OGE in March 2017 regarding Ivanka Trump’s compliance with federal ethics rules. Soon after that request was sent, Ms. Trump decided to formally become a federal employee instead of an “unofficial White House liaison,” meaning that she is not exempt from ethical rules for government employees.

The letter can be found here