Daily Archives: February 13, 2017

The official @POTUS account retweeted Trump’s tweet criticizing Nordstrom is a possible ethics violation

[Image: via Twitter]

Fast Company website:

What are the legal implications of his decision? It’s complicated.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, government officials cannot use their public office “for the endorsement of any product, service, or enterprise.” The law further states that officials cannot use their position to give the appearance that the government “sanctions or endorses” the activities of a private party. In this case, “sanctions” can mean to penalize, much like the U.S. has placed sanctions on Iran. The catch here is that the law applies to every single government employee besides the president and the vice president. It was designed that way because, while other employees of the White House can step aside due to a conflict of interest, forcing the president to do so would leave a massive power vacuum.

That said, the regulations provide us with a clear guide as to the right and the wrong way to use the government’s power. It makes it clear that there is a distinction between using one’s capacity as a government official and acting as a private citizen. Trump first tweeted under his private Twitter handle, @realDonaldTrump, to make this statement. “I interpret this tweet to mean that Donald J. Trump is acting in his personal capacity, not on behalf of the United States government,” Clark says. “He’s talking about his daughter and he doesn’t invoke anything about the government here.”

According to Clark, this initial tweet was not an ethical violation. The law ensures that government employees are afforded the right to act as private citizens. “It’s absolutely critical that government officials, in general, make communications in their personal capacity,” she explains. “And that the government not be able to shut down or gag government employees by prohibiting them from speaking on their own behalf.”

But all of that changed when the official @POTUS account retweeted Trump’s original tweet, because suddenly the official weight of the government was behind Trump’s criticism of Nordstrom’s decision to drop Ivanka’s products. “The @POTUS handle is seen as government property,” Clark says. “It’s an official government organ.”

Trump labor nominee Puzder owes millions to bank seeking waiver from his department

Update 2/12, 1:30 pm ET:  After this story was published, Andrew Puzder spokesman George Thompson got back in touch with IBT to assert that, after the sale of his house, the Labor Secretary nominee currently has “a little more than $900,000” in debt to UBS, despite the financial disclosure forms that Puzder recently filed. The story has been updated to reflect the later assertion.

Original story: President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Department of Labor personally owed millions of dollars to a convicted bank that is relying on the same department to waive sanctions for its crimes, according to federal records. The ties between Trump’s embattled appointee Andrew Puzder and the multinational bank UBS were listed in federal documents reviewed by International Business Times — but they were not explicitly acknowledged in Puzder’s ethics agreement with federal regulators.

Read on.