Ivanka Trump accused of violating federal ethics law with bean brand endorsement

President’s daughter has previously taken flack for pursuing trademarks in China and using a personal email for government business

Andrew Naughtie
Thursday 17 September 2020 09:57 BST
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Goya Foods CEO praises Trump
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Ivanka Trump has apparently endorsed products from a company whose CEO is an outspoken supporter of her father, thereby landing herself in trouble for potentially violating a government ethics law.

Ms Trump tweeted a picture of herself holding a can of Goya brand black beans with the caption: “If it’s Goya, it has to be good. Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno.” (Ms Trump is not known to speak Spanish herself.)

No sooner had she done this than critics pointed out that as a formally employed advisor to the president, Ms Trump is forbidden from endorsing products by a federal ethics provision under the heading “use of public office for private gain”.

The section Ms Trump is being mocked for violation reads: “An employee shall not use or permit the use of his government position or title or any authority associated with his public office to endorse any product, service or enterprise.”

Ms Trump is not just the president’s daughter; she is also has the title “advisor to the president”. While they both have formal job roles, she and her husband Jared Kushner both forgo their salaries - but this does not make them exempt from rules governing government staff.

Her endorsement of the Goya brand comes after the company’s CEO, Robert Unanue, appeared at a White House event featuring various business leaders. In his remarks, he called the president an “incredible builder” and declared the US “blessed” to have him as chief executive.

Donald Trump’s opponents, including high-profile progressives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Lin-Manuel Miranda, immediately sprung into boycott mode – and a few days later, Ms Trump decided to take Goya’s side.

The president’s daughter has been criticised before for her ethical conduct while in office. She has won multiple trademarks for her various businesses in China, which sits awkwardly alongside Mr Trump’s belligerent rhetoric on Beijing’s trade practices – as well as his repeated and apparently baseless claim that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, allegedly made “millions of dollars” from a Chinese “payoff”. On another front, Ms Trump is known to have used a personal email account to conduct government business before she became an official employee. Among the emails was a message referring to a White House official as her “COS”, or chief of staff.

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