Presidential adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump posted a photo of herself on social media late Tuesday holding up a can of Goya black beans, prompting concerns that she was using her government position to endorse a private business.
Goya, which bills itself as America’s largest Hispanic-owned food company, has faced boycott calls in the days since its chief executive officer, Robert Unanue, praised President Trump at a White House event, saying that “we’re all truly blessed” to have him as a leader.
In an apparent show of support for the company, Ivanka Trump posted the photo of herself along with the slogan, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good.” She also included the Spanish translation in postings on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Federal ethics laws prevent federal employees from using their positions “to endorse any product, service or enterprise.”
Critics pounced overnight.
“You’re about to get dinged for a violation of ethics rules that apply to you as a White House staffer,” Liz Mair, a Republican political consultant, tweeted.
Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. attorney in Alabama, also weighed in, tweeting: “You’re kidding me, right? No ethics left in this White House on issues big or small.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), responded in Spanish, writing on Twitter: “If it’s Trump, it has to be corrupt.”
Others took to social media to mock the president’s eldest daughter. One Twitter user, for example, superimposed a bottle of Clorox over the can of Goya Beans, making it look like Ivanka Trump was hawking the popular disinfectant.
The doctored photo included the slogan “El delicioso!” — a reference to the president’s musings about whether ingested disinfectants could combat the coronavirus.
Tuesday night was not the first time Trump officials have come under fire for seemingly endorsing products. In 2017, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway drew criticism after telling Fox News viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” a reference to her clothing and jewelry line. Conway faced no discipline after a White House lawyer determined she spoke “inadvertently.”
The controversy over Goya was sparked last week, when the company’s CEO joined Trump in the Rose Garden for the signing of an executive order that pledges to improve Hispanic Americans’ access to educational and economic opportunities.
During remarks, Unanue, a Spanish immigrant, said he and Trump have something in common.
“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder, and that’s what my grandfather did,” Unanue said. “He came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper. And so we have an incredible builder, and we pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country that we will continue to prosper and to grow.”
The remarks fueled a firestorm of backlash targeting Unanue and Goya that culminated in widespread calls to boycott the popular brand.
Unanue has characterized the effort as an attempt to suppress free speech.
On Wednesday morning, the president took to Twitter to defend Goya — but made no mention of the fresh controversy sparked by his daughter.
“@GoyaFoods is doing GREAT,” Trump said. “The Radical Left smear machine backfired, people are buying like crazy!”
Allyson Chiu contributed to this report.
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