I try not to post political things too often since it’s sure to get some people upset.
But I couldn’t leave this one alone. And perhaps I’ll try to justify this post by saying it’s not really political, it’s more about marketing/advertising, a topic I’ve talked about quite often, and ethics.
The issue involves a tweet posted by Ivanka Trump on Tuesday of this week:
If an actor or an athlete were the ones posting such a tweet, everyone would recognize it as an ad that is promoting Goya products.
So why should it be considered any different if it is Ivanka Trump, daughter, and advisor to the President? She is clearly promoting the Goya product as if she were a celebrity endorser.
Well, the problem is, she’s not allowed to do such a thing. Along with her husband, Ivanka Trump is a federal employee and subject to certain regulations.
The Hatch Act of 1939 prohibits federal employees in the executive branch from undertaking certain activities on behalf of a political candidate. By promoting Goya Foods in the context of the current political campaign it is possible that her Tweet might be seen as a form of political activity in support of the President’s reelection campaign.
Additionally, the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR), Title 5. Administrative Personnel, Chapter XVI. OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS, Subchapter B. GOVERNMENT ETHICS, Part 2635. STANDARDS OF ETHICAL CONDUCT FOR EMPLOYEES OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH, Subpart G. Misuse of Position, Section 2635.702. Use of public office for private gain., section C states the following:
(c) Endorsements. 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 except:
(1) In furtherance of statutory authority to promote products, services or enterprises; or
(2) As a result of documentation of compliance with agency requirements or standards or as the result of recognition for achievement given under an agency program of recognition for accomplishment in support of the agency’s mission.
In my opinion, both the photo and the text of her Tweet appear to be an endorsement of the product and enterprise, in violation of this federal law.
Despite this violation (at least to me it appears to be one), nothing is likely to happen, since it is the White House that would be responsible for disciplining Ivanka.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows even told reporters accompanying the president to Atlanta on Wednesday that he doubted Ivanka Trump would face any repercussions.
And that’s just not right.
A reasonable person would conclude that Ivanka is clearly promoting Goya’s product. And I think a reasonable person would also read the part about the Hatch Act above and conclude that this tweet clearly violates the provisions of the Act.
Thus I think it’s reasonable to assume that there should be some repercussions for such a violation.
But that doesn’t appear to be the case, and that seems worse than Ivanka’s tweet.
*image from the Defense Logistics Agency