Skip to main content

Nordstrom (JWN) shares rallied on Thursday for a second day as one of Trump's top aides may have violated ethics laws by urging Americans to buy the Ivanka Trump line it just dropped.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, in an interview on Fox News' "Fox & Friends" gave what she called a "free commercial" to President Trump's daughter's brand, urging Americans to "go buy Ivanka's stuff." Her words came a day after Trump took to Twitter to slam Seattle-based retailer Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka Trump's clothing and accessories line.

Conway described Ivanka Trump's eponymous brand as a "fully unbelievably entrepreneurial wildly successful business."

"It's a wonderful line, I own some of it. I'm going to give a free commercial, here, go buy it today everybody, you can find it online," she said.

Experts quickly pointed out Conway's words may violate executive branch ethics rules.

Larry Noble, general counsel at Washington, D.C. watchdog the Campaign Legal Center, noted on Twitter that Conway might have violated a ban on government employees from endorsing products or services.

The rule in question bars government employees from using public office for his or her own private gain, the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise or for the gain of friends, relatives or other affiliates.

Don Fox, former general counsel and former acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, told The Washington Post Conway's commercial "would seem to be a clear violation of rules prohibiting misuse of public office for anyone's private gain," calling her words "jaw-dropping."

Former Obama ethics czar Norm Eisen echoed the point in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday. "By doing this ad, I have never seen anything like it, it's a violation of the rules, pure and simple," he said.

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

Eisen, who has emerged as one of Trump's fiercest ethics critics, said the responsibility to oversee the matter will initially reside with Trump White House counsel Don McGahn and the OGE. "It's a serious matter," he said.

Image placeholder title

Trump aid Kellyanne Conway

The White House on Wednesday defended Trump over a mid-morning tweet accusing retailer Nordstrom of "unfairly" treating his daughter by dropping her clothing and accessories line. The company insists the decision is not politically motivated but business-driven.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president has "every right to stand up for his family," even as ethics experts said Trump's tweet -- which came from his personal @RealDonaldTrump account but was retweeted by the official @POTUS account -- might be problematic as well.

Conway on Thursday called the grassroots group #GrabYourWallet, which encourages consumers to boycott companies that carry Trump family products, a "huge failure." But that might not be the case.

TJX Companies (TJX) , which owns T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, has instructed employees not to display Ivanka Trump merchandise separately, though it remains on the sales floor. Neiman Marcus has said it will drop Ivanka Trump's line.

Nordstrom thus far appears not to have been hurt by its decision -- in fact, quite the opposite.

Shares of the company were up 3.3% midday Thursday and climbed more than 4% on Wednesday.

TJX Companiesis a holding in Jim Cramer'sAction Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio.Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells TJX? Learn more now.