Following this morning’s comment by White House special adviser Kellyanne Conway that people “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” the U.S. Office of Government Ethics says its website was pushed offline by the apparent rush of people looking to voice their opinion on the matter.
In a multipart Tweet posted this afternoon, the OGE explained that its “website, phone system and email system are receiving an extraordinary volume of contacts from citizens about recent events.”
At the same time, the independent agency explained that it is not an investigative body. Instead, it notes, “Congress, GAO, the FBI, Inspectors General, and the Office of Special Counsel have the authority to conduct investigations.”
Once it hears of a possible violation, “OGE contacts the agency, provides guidance & asks them to notify OGE of any action taken.”
Numerous groups and individuals — including Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — have called for action over Conway’s remarks, alleging that they violate a federal rule against using public office for private gain.
That regulation does not apply to the President or Vice-President, but does apply to most other employees of the Executive branch.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT), Chair of the House Oversight Committee said this afternoon that Conway’s remarks, exhorting people to buy Ivanka’s clothing line were “wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line, unacceptable,” and that he would work with Rep. Cummings to urge the White House to refer the matter to the OGE.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer spoke only briefly about Conway’s comments at this afternoon’s press conference, saying she “has been counseled” following this morning’s events, but provided no further explanation.