This Seems a Bit Out of Line

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.

The exceptions do not seem relevant here.

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

39 thoughts on “This Seems a Bit Out of Line

  1. In light of the recent political controversy about Goya, they might be able to argue context, to justify this as political. But hell, I’m no lawyer. I think the Dems would have to impeach and remove Trump to get to Ivanka. I wonder how that would work out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll agree that there might be some wiggle room here for a good lawyer to say there was no violation. But even if it didn’t violate the letter of the law, to me it seems to violate the spirit of the law…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. They say that great minds think alike. I just finished writing my morning post about this exact thing! It’s not the first time, either. In 2017, a few weeks after Trump’s inauguration, Kellyanne publicly promoted Ivanka’s products, and was criticized but never censured or fired. The rules seem not to apply for Trump and his entourage of circus clowns.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You must be mistaken, Jim. Trump promised to drain the swamp, and we know he never lies to the American people. Kellyanne Conway and Mark Meadows have violated the Hatch Act on multiple occasions and have faced no punishment. Joe Arpaio and Roger Stone were convicted of crimes and were pardoned or had their sentence commuted. Loyalty to and praise for Trump are more important than ethics and the rule of law.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As an outsider looking in …I am not really in any position to comment on US policies, however…I was reading about Mary Trumps Book and also how that with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision giving the state prosecutor in Manhattan a clear path to Trump’s financial and tax records, Trump now knows he cannot avoid facing NY’s criminal laws against financial and tax fraud. Neither AG Barr nor Rudy Giuliani can save him from facing major charges, which cannot be avoided for much longer.
    Trump may think he can buy some time by getting re-elected president, but he can neither rig nor stop the NY investigations of his, his siblings’ and his children’s seemingly criminal conduct. Trump cannot pardon himself or anyone else for NY state law crimes, nor pardon himself for federal crimes despite some of his followers’ wishful thinking to the contrary. Even if Trump pardons Pence, then resigns, followed by President Pence pardoning him for federal crimes, Trump would still face potentially serious state criminal charges in Manhattan….I off course don’t know how true this is so feel free to delete…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m waiting for the Jim Borden commercial before going with Goya. I’m waiting for someone with better WordPress numbers to influence me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think I’ve got some cans of Goya black beans in my cabinet as I type this. Once I get a million followers, I’ll start promoting all sorts of products, for the right price, of course…. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, the Hatch Act. A law well-known by any federal employee. It does not surprise me that she would do this and face no recourse. That seems to be the general theme to this current administration. If you are a friend to Trump, you can do anything you’d like and your fealty will buy you protection. I wish that there would be some penalty for her to face, but after commuting Stone’s sentence, I can’t imagine the White House will do anything about it. This administration is rife with nepotism and it won’t end till this administration does. The thing that really strikes me is, just how bad are things that she needs to hock Goya products for a paycheck? Great post on the slippery slope of advertising and marketing in the 21st century, Jim!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. yes, highly illegal. and i agree, nothing will happen as a result of this. daddy posed with the products as well. so much behind all of this and my hope is that we can just get them out of the wh before anymore damage is done. p.s. when was the last time that ivanka or donald every actually ate one of these products?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sadly, in the great scheme of things, this is but a small misdemeanour on the part of The First Family Of Crime. It was compounded by the Donfather posing with a whole desk full of Goya products a few hours later. There is nothing to which these con merchants won’t stoop to monetise his Presidency.

    On the brighter side, the Ivanka photo did give rise to several parodies – I particularly liked the one where the beans had been replaced by that Hydrowotsit stuff her Dad was touting…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And given the speed with which people were pointing out that what she did was illegal’ Trump showed how much disregard he has for the law with his tweet too. Your country can’t be rid of them too soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I purposely ignored what the President did because I didn’t want to make it a post about him. And apparently a lot of the ethic law don’t apply to the President, so I guess he was allowed to do what he did with showing off the Goya products. But you’re right, things need to change, and it can’t be done soon enough…

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I am not at all political but that being said I do have my opinions!! Politically I wondered about this as well. Opinion wise, I just don’t think high ranking government persons or presidential advisors should be promoting products. I would like to think they would have much more to concern themselves with than individual consumer products. No matter what political corner they are in.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Jim,
    This is obviously a political thing that is small peanuts relative to the much more widespread scandals of public employees. Here are some examples —
    https://humanevents.com/2011/03/04/top-10-public-employee-scandals/

    Other types are mentioned at
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_corruption

    Another scandal, in my opinion, is with the way civil service employees get promoted according to rules that have little to do with merit —
    https://www.fedsmith.com/2015/01/19/the-ugly-truth-about-promotions/

    Lastly, there is the well known track of public sector hiring of top government officials such as when Lockheed hires generals and Big Pharma hires FDA executives at outrageous salaries.

    The above scandals of a much more worrisome in terms of frequency and magnitude.

    The USA ranks relatively bad in in terms of perceived corruption largely because of public sector corruption —
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index
    The USA comes in at Rank 23 behind Uruguay and just barely ahead of Bhutan and Chile.
    Of course the private sector is usually feeding the funds under the table to public sector employees.

    Bob

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bob, thanks for all the links. It’s embarrassing that a country as great as ours (which I believe it is), would be ranked so low on corruption.
      And while the Ivanka thing may be relatively minor, to me it is systematic of how the executive office runs the country.

      Like

  11. In 2011, President Obama saluted Goya Foods, and extended his gratitude to the Hispanic community (at a White House Reception.) The Goya Foods CEO Unanue was in attendance (he introduced the President at this celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.) CEO Unanue also collaborated with first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” nutritional efforts. No one started a boycott of Goya Foods.

    Trump just signed an executive order expanding the “Hispanic Prosperity Initiative” after meetings with Hispanic business leaders and politicians, including Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue who said, “We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder.”

    This led to calls for Goya Foods boycott, including the snide tweets of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) “Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo.’” She later shared a friend’s recipe for Adobo seasoning, which is made by Goya and is a well-known Latino ingredient.

    Now Ivanka responds with something supportive, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good.” Is she engaging in a political activity or is she supporting the fair treatment of all businesses in the face of today’s cancel culture?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. this is why I don’t like to post anything that hints of politics. If it’s not clear what the purpose of Ivanka’s tweet was, then to me it seems wise to err in the direction of doing what appears to be ethical…

      Like

Leave a Reply to beth Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.