Skip to main content

Ivanka Trump’s Goya Tweet Isn’t Just Gross, It’s a ‘Flagrant’ Violation of Federal Law


If there’s anything we know about the Trump family, it’s that they just don’t learn. Not about apostrophes, and not about federal law. We are, once again, living in a world in which a White House official is out there endorsing commercial products. And oh-boya, this one is really angering people.

Wondering why Ivanka is suddenly interested in canned beans? Well, a few days ago, Goya CEO Robert Unanue attended a White House event, at which he said, “We’re all truly blessed” to “have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder.” Unanue was widely criticized for his comments, and calls to boycott Goya sprang up immediately.

On Tuesday night, First Daughter of the United States (FDOTUS) and White House Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump came to Goya’s rescue in the wake of the recent #Goyaway boycott.

Putting aside the extreme poor taste of suddenly being down-with-Latinx after Donald Trump has consistently denigrated Mexicans, there’s also that little issue of violating federal law. Again.

Under 5 CFR 2635.702, “An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.” You may remember this as the federal ethics law that Kellyanne Conway was “counseled” for potentially having violated when she hawked Ivanka’s jewelry line during a press conference.

The reactions to Ivanka’s Goyadvertisement have been swift and merciless:

“Thank you to @ivankatrump for providing me with a picture/anecdote to use in my anti-corruption class this fall to demonstrate a flagrant violation of federal ethics laws,” said Jessica Tillipman, an Assistant Dean for Field Placement and Professorial Lecturer in Law at George Washington University Law School.

So, could FDOTUS face any penalties? As was the case with Conway, Ivanka could face consequences, but she likely won’t.

The law states:

A violation of this part or of supplemental agency regulations may be cause for appropriate corrective or disciplinary action to be taken under applicable Governmentwide regulations or agency procedures. Such action may be in addition to any action or penalty prescribed by law.

Bottom line, any discipline would be primarily up to President Trump. The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) called out the White House for failing to discipline Conway for her endorsement of Ivanka’s jewelry line in 2017. Ultimately, though, it didn’t go much beyond a letter.

The Office of Special Counsel eventually recommended Conway’s firing after finding that White House counselor repeatedly violated the Hatch Act. Conway still has a job.

If Ivanka’s unfettered disregard for federal ethics rules was a bit much for you to bear, we’ve got some bad news.

A spokesperson for an unrepentant Ivanka Trump insisted that the Goya endorsement was nothing more than expression of a personal belief — and that allegations of her having violated federal ethics rules were the media’s fault. Dredging up one of her favorite deflections, Ivanka blamed the “cancel culture movement” for attempting to silence her. Last month, the villainous “cancel culture” kept Ivanka from commencement speeches, this month, it’s trying to silence her love of beans.

In a statement Wednesday, White House specialty media director Carolina Hurley expressed outrage that Ivanka would be unfairly challenged “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.”

[image via Win McNamee and Getty Images]

Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated from its original version to include statements from Ivanka Trump’s spokesperson.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos