Ethics watchdogs and good-government types were aghast last month when Kellyanne Conway turned an interview from the White House into an Ivanka Trump infomercial, says Josh Voorhees, but as bad as that was, there is a much larger and more serious conflict of interest.
“If Conway is taking an active role in White House decision-making that directly impacts the fortunes of her firm’s clients, it would pose a far larger problem than her unapologetic Ivanka endorsement did: It could be a federal crime punishable with prison time,” notes Voorhees.
Evidence suggests that Conway has still not sold the Polling Company, the consulting firm she founded in 1995, more than two months after starting to work inside the White House. In other words, says Voorhees, Conway is well positioned to use her public office to advance the interests of her private business—for example, a company or group could pay the Polling Company for advice knowing that its owner is “in turn giving her own advice to the president.”
This type of transaction is more than just a violation of a federal rule, which is usually accompanied by actions ranging from a reprimand to removal. This time around, instead of suffering no consequences, as she did with her Ivanka stunt, she would be in violation of federal law. And that is punishable with jail time.