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Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters at Trump Tower, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The government ethics agency rebuked the White House's decision to not punish Conway


The government watchdog agency, the Office of Government Ethics, expressed its displeasure with the White House's decision not to pursue disciplinary action for President Trump's senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, who, in early February, promoted Ivanka Trump's fashion products in an interview with Fox News in early February.

"Not taking disciplinary action against a senior official under such circumstances risks undermining the ethics program," Director Walter Shaub wrote to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a letter dated March 9.

According to federal rules, executive branch employees are barred from endorsing products. The White House claimed in Conway's defense that she was speaking "in a light, off-hand manner while attempting to stand up for a person she believed had been unfairly treated."

But that reasoning didn't ease Shaub's concern, who said he was troubled by Conway's "misuse of position." He added that the White House's decision to allow Conway to walk free of penalty wouldn't deter future misconduct.

Shaub also said the OGE disagrees with the White House's "extraordinary" assertion that some regulations don't apply to the president's staff.

"It is critical to the public's faith in the integrity of the government that White House employees be held to the same standard of ethical accountability as other executive branch employees," he wrote.

Despite Shaub's criticism of the White House's decision to not discipline Conway, the OGE doesn't have the authority to actually impose disciplinary action on an executive branch employee other than on its own staff. The agency's "only recourse is to notify the President," the letter read.

WATCH | Kellyanne Conway endorses Ivanka Trump's products in a Fox & Friends interview

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