Ivanka Trump's Brand Raises an Ethical Question

November 15th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Following the Trump family's appearance on CBS News' "60 Minutes" on Sunday, fashion journalists received a press release promoting a $10,800 bracelet worn by incoming first daughter Ivanka Trump and sold by Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry.

Government ethics experts have warned about possible conflicts-of-interest arising from the Trump family's business holdings and political responsibilities, The Washington Post reported. That's why it's tradition for presidents to put their assets in a blind trust, overseen by an independent trustee, during their time in office. The purpose is "to avoid the appearance of impropriety," Hana Callaghan, the director of government ethics at Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics told ATTN:.

There's nothing illegal about promoting and profiting off personal businesses at the presidential level, but just because something is legal doesn't mean it's ethical. Ivanka Trump said in the "60 Minues" interview that she won't formally serve under her father's administration, but as part of the transition team, she's currently is a position where she's expected to abide by the same ethical principles as any public office holder.


"We delegate authority to our public officials and they act on our behalf — and that is what gives rise to the fiduciary relationship," Callaghan said. "One thing that I find problematic is, the President Transition Act of 1964 recognized that the smooth transfer of power is a legitimate governmental purpose, and provided federal funds to fulfill this goal, so people who serve on a transition team are public officials, and they have the same duty of loyalty to put the public's interest before their own personal interest."

Therefore, from an ethical standpoint, the press release could be criticized as an example of putting personal interests over public interests.


That said, it's unclear whether she authorized the press release. ATTN: reached out to the Trump campaign and Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry for comment, but representatives were not immediately available. In a statement to the Post, Ivanka Trump brand president Abigail Klem said the bracelet press release was sent by a "well-intentioned marketing employee at one of our companies who was following customary protocol, and who, like many of us, is still making adjustments post-election."

"We are proactively discussing new policies and procedures with all of our partners going forward," Klem added.