Robert Unanue, chief executive of the Goya company that sells food products associated with Hispanic cuisine, attended a White House event organized by Trump to try and gain Hispanic support and fulsomely praised him. This angered many people who called for a boycott of Goya products.
So what does Trump do in response? He posts a photo of himself with a bunch of Goya products and his daughter Ivanka did the same, raising ethics questions about the propriety of using their official government positions to endorse products. (Readers can now pick themselves off the floor after laughing heartily at my using the words ‘Trump’, ‘ethics’, and ‘propriety’ in the same sentence.)
Walter Shaub, a former director of the US Office of Government Ethics (OGE), wrote in a series of tweets that Ms Trump’s tweet was “clearly a violation of the government’s misuse of position regulation”.
“There’s a particularly unseemly aspect to this violation: it creates the appearance that the government’s endorsement is for sale,” he added. “Endorse the president and the administration will endorse your product.”
The social media posts have also prompted ridicule, with California congresswoman Jackie Speier, a Democrat, tweeting “This is the president of the United States, selling canned goods in the [White House]
The idea that during a pandemic and other pressing issues Trump makes time for this kind of triviality shows how little he cares for the substantive issues the government faces. In addition, I am not sure that this endorsement helps Goya. Trump’s approval ratings are sinking so fast that his endorsement could actually have a negative impact on sales.
Seth Meyers comments on this and other stories.