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Did Ivanka Trump Violate Ethics Laws? Why Her Picture Of A Can Of Beans May Get Her In Trouble

Photo: Mark Reinstein / Shutterstock

Ivanka Trump, 38, caused quite the commotion on the night of July 14 after she posted a picture of herself holding a can of Goya black beans on social media. While some may see the picture as a feeble attempt to fight back against people boycotting the Goya brand after its CEO, Robert Unanue, publicly praised President Trump, others have pointed out that Ivanka may have violated ethics laws with her Twitter picture. 

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Why is Ivanka Trump promoting Goya beans?

During a speech in the White House Rose Garden on July 10, Goya CEO and third-generation immigrant Robert Unanue praised Trump — who has a CVS receipt-length history of making racist remarks — for his leadership ability. After people began to boycott Goya’s products because of Unanue’s endorsement and approval of President Trump, Ivanka posted a picture of herself holding a can of beans.

What ethics laws did Ivanka Trump potentially violate?

How much time do you have? While the Trump administration has violated ethics laws for, well, practically the entire time Trump’s been in office, former U.S. Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub noted in a Twitter thread that Ivanka’s Goya tweet “is clearly a violation of the government's misuse of position regulation, 5 C.F.R. § 2635.702.”

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The regulation Shaub is alleging Ivanka violated reads, “An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member, and persons with whom the employee has or seeks employment or business relations.”

So what does that mean, exactly?

Basically, if you’re an employee of the federal government — Ivanka is the White House's Senior Advisor — you can’t use your personal platform to promote a product for political gain; i.e. a can of black beans from a brand whose CEO said the country was “blessed to have a leader like Trump.”

How did people react to Ivanka Trump’s beans pic?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired back immediately with a quick-witted Twitter post of her own. The 30-year-old New York representative retweeted the pic with a comment, writing, “Si es Trump, tiene que ser corrupto,” which translates to, “If it’s Trump, it has to be corrupt.”

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MSNBC’s The Last Word Senior Producer Kyle Griffin tweeted, “Why is a Senior White House Official endorsing a food product?” to which one Twitter user replied, “It is even legal to do so? And who decided on the White dress and the canned Black beans?”

Will Ivanka get in trouble for potentially violating ethics laws?

Ivanka Trump could face consequences for violating ethics laws. According to the United States Office of Government Ethics, employees "may be imprisoned, fined, demoted, or fired for violating an ethics provision." Someone would have to file a complaint about Ivanka, which would go to the White House’s ethics counsel, then ultimately, President Trump. However, since Ivanka’s boss is her father, it’s unlikely that she will face any consequences for her promotion of the Goya brand. 

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Olivia Jakiel is an editor and writer who covers celebrity and entertainment news. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her zingers on Twitter.