Goya Ethics

(Yes it’s unethical, but that photo just cracks me up.)

The United States Office of Government Ethics, which has the responsibility of “preventing conflicts of interest in the executive branch,” has among its guidelines ,

“Executive branch employees may not use their Government positions to suggest that the agency or any part of the executive branch endorses an organization (including a nonprofit organization), product, service, or person.”

The provision is clear, and I think obviously, necessary. Yet after anti-Trump zealots announced a boycott of Goya, the largest Hispanic-owned company in the U.S., after the company’s CEO Robert Unanue praised President Donald Trump in a Rose Garden event last week, the First Family went to extraordinary—and unethical—lengths to support the “buycott”  that conservative groups launched in response.

First, White House adviser Ivanka Trump posted a photo of herself holding a can of Goya black beans this week, captioning it, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good” along with the  translation, “Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno.”

Quick like a bunny, the  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Office of Government Ethics, and went to news outlet after news outlet explaining what an outrage this was. I would applaud CREWs’ dedication to ethics compliance if it were not the hypocritical, partisan/ fake non-partisan “watchdog group”  that it is, as has been documented here many times. I’ll start taking their outrage seriously when they start filing complaints against Democrats. Still, in this case, it was right.

After such a complaint, there is supposed to be an investigation. The ethics office would send a letter to the White House’s designated ethics official rsuggesting disciplinary actions. The White House counsel’s office would be involved, and if the violation were considered serious, the employee “may be imprisoned, fined, demoted, or fired for violating an ethics provision.” For holding up a can of beans. “Beangate.”

Former director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub, whom I assumed was in a rubber room by now since the Trump Administration’s disinterest in ethics  has been annoying him since Inauguration Day, 2017,  flatly stated that “the Goya tweet was an ethics violation.”

Shaub noted that despite the fact that both the First Daughter’s Twitter and Instagram accounts contain disclaimers that they are personal pages, it’s “a bad idea to include your title in the bio because that’s a factor weighing in favor of finding a violation occurred….If you tout the company’s product in an obvious response to the backlash the company is facing for the CEO’s remarks about your father-president, you knowingly link your account in people’s minds to your official activities; you create the appearance of official sanction.

He added that there is a “strong appearance” that Ivanka was endorsing the product in her official capacity and she is clearly in violation of the misuse of position regulation.

Naturally, the White House claimed that she was not in violation since her endorsement was “personal.” Of course she was violating the rule. I would have more respect for a response of, “Yes, Ms. Trump broke the rule and promoted a can of beans to counter a disgusting effort by assholes to punish a minority-owned business because its owner supports the President of the United States.  We are proud of her.” In any event, as CREW even acknowledged, the chances of her being punished by her father are about the same as the odds of Joe Biden getting to the end of “I am the very model of a Modern Major General” without a teleprompter.

The President’s photo, however, is exempt from the ethics rules. It’s just incredibly, wildly, blatantly, in-your face unethical. For the President to use not only his position but the Oval Office to endorse any company’s product is an abuse of power and position, and lowers the prestige and image of the Presidency. He would defend the photo, I’m sure, saying something like, “Ethics Shmethics. I have the ability to prevent the attempted  harm and  harassment of a Hispanic-American success story being inflicted by assholes because the owner is a patriot, and it’s the right thing to do. I’m President, I can do it, so I did. Tell Nancy Pelosi to impeach me.”

And to be honest, he would have a point.

55 thoughts on “Goya Ethics

  1. “… and lowers the prestige and image of the Presidency.”

    He does that every time he takes to Twitter.

    • “He does that every time he takes to Twitter.”

      Oy! 90 % of the problem and 90 % of the solution.

      All Id and no Super Ego; he just doesn’t give a $#!t about Lefty’s slobbering reactions; quite the CONTRARY, it would appear.

    • Speaking of lowering prestige, how about getting blown in the Oval office by a volunteer intern, aka? I’ll take tweeting until the cows come home. And I bet you will as well.

      Thinking Trump will quit tweeting is like asking politicians to stop begging for money. Just not going to happen. It may even be his secret weapon to getting re-elected. Who knows?

      Cheers.

      • I saw this photo juxtaposed with Kennedy hard at work at the desk.

        I was tempted to respond with something about Ms. Monroe hiding below….

      • I am less concerned with the behavior of someone who left office 19 years ago than I am with the that of the current occupant. And isn’t “there are worse things” a rationalization? Maybe it’s that I have a problem with Twitter, social media, and bombast in general. I wish people would just STFU sometimes.

        • Being just a few years younger than William Jefferson Clinton, I consider him (and his alleged wife) an embarrassment to my generation and (in his case) an embarrassment to me as a guy. Twitter’s annoying and I don’t use it or read it. Being a grifter and a cad on a presidential scale, I have a problem with. “It’s not the worst thing really doesn’t apply. These behaviors are not even comparable.

    • I don’t think him benefitting (or not) personally is relevant to the ethics question.
      Government weighing in on the free market on the side of one company when it is supposed to be an impartial judge and regulator of the market is just unfair and unethical.
      It also strengthens the argument for why there should be an absolute separation of government and economics (like state and religion)

      • You are saying the President should not promote American brands anywhere. If the President of the US is held accountable for the level of employment then he cannot be told he cannot promote American products that are being targeted for boycott. Your argument is sounder if no boycott was being promoted by his political adversaries.

        The ethical statement should be no person shall be targeted for economic ruin for engaging in legitimate political speech.

  2. I get it.

    However, if the endorsement of him resulted in an ill-conceived boycott, can this not be a proper use of the bully pulpit to induce a buy-cott. If Trump is not benefiting personally, all he is doing is promoting an American business. How is this different from Clinton commending Steve Jobs at the State of the Union?

    -Jut

    • Totally agree. This is Trump’s forte. Government watchdogs and Democrats will whine that he did something bad but Trump understands the pulse of the culture. Trump advocates on behalf if a U.S. based business owned by Hispanics. The boycott hurts a U.S. based business owned by Hispanics becausecan owner daud nice things about the President. Who will Hispanics support?

      jvb

    • Not benefitting personally…considering Trump’s record of playing fast and loose with campaign contributions, maybe that statement might not be wholly accurate…

  3. Every president promotes American business. Everytime they go to a factory or are on the links and are photographed wearing company logo wear like Ford or Titleist ball caps

    I see any ethical violation ONLY when he stands to benefit financially. He is not disparaging another American product.

    Actually, I think every President has a duty to stand up for Americans who are being economically attacked irrespective of why they being attacked or who is doing the attacking. He is not just standing up for the business he is doing what he can to protect the jobs of all the other Americans who work at Goya. The left cares little about collateral damage.

  4. I’ve heard many conservatives say that they are taking a new approach to the cancel culture wars. Simply put, their new position is: “Buy any beans necessary.”

  5. I love posts like this that amount to sure it would be wrong but valkygrrl and people like her are pieces of shit so whatever Trump does is okay. Much Sicilian ethics.

    • Wait, what? How did you get THAT out of the post? What part of…

      It’s just incredibly, wildly, blatantly, in-your face unethical. For the President to use not only his position but the Oval Office to endorse any company’s product is an abuse of power and position, and lowers the prestige and image of the Presidency.

      ..means “okay” to you?

    • Whoa! Back off your boogaloo there, Valky.

      There’s an old saying about the fit of shoes that might be relevant, but seriously, I don’t think you are comparable to the idiots conducting the unethical boycott of Goya because the CEO said nice things about Orange Man. Quite honestly, just like conservatives, the Left are a spectrum from merely mistaken to batshit crazy. I’ve always included you more towards “merely mistaken” end of the spectrum. And even if I’m wrong about that, I’ve always hoped you weren’t way over on the batshit crazy side, and your commentary has never really placed you there.

      If, however, you’ve been motivated to boycott Goya because their CEO didn’t declare his host a danger to the free world while visiting the White House and even said some nice things, then didn’t surrender to the “woke” mob when they came for him, let me know and I’ll revise my opinion. Being wrong about people I read on the Internet is something of a hobby for me.

      • The CEO gave a pile of money to Orange Man, that’s a bad idea.

        I can’t boycott goya because I’ve never been in the habit of buying goya to begin with but if you think a company giving a pile of money to Trump will endear me, it won’t.

        Businesses should really stay out of the political support game. Donate where I like and you don’t win any points with me, donate where I don’t like and I’ll hold a grudge.

        • But unions can give unlimited amounts of money to candidates?

          Did this horse leave the barn with “Citizens United?”

          • Citizens United has made everything worse. But back to the matter at hand, what’s the problem exactly. Goya’s CEO does something bad, I respond by punishing him in the harshed way possible. I deny him my good opinion. Everything’s good for everyone but the poor evil-door who must now suffer for want of my good opinion.

              • “Goya’s CEO does something bad.” That’s where you and I part ways. He praised a sitting president. So what? How many CEOs and corporate titans sat at Barack Obama’s feet? Was I supposed to boycott their products if I wasn’t wild about Obama’s presidency? It’s just nuts. You’re clearly Trump deranged.

        • Okay, let’s break this down:

          The CEO gave a pile of money to Orange Man, that’s a bad idea.

          It’s free speech. The end.

          I can’t boycott goya because I’ve never been in the habit of buying goya to begin with but if you think a company giving a pile of money to Trump will endear me, it won’t.

          Got it. And that’s fair. Still, there is a lot of crazy between “I don’t like it” and “BOYCOT AND CANCEL GOYA! ORANGE MAN BAD! ANYONE SUPPORTING TRUMP MUST BE BANKRUPTED AND DIE DESTITUTE!”

          I’ll wager most of they boycott-criers have never bought the first Goya product. It’s not crazy not to buy from people who’s politics you don’t agree with — I don’t buy Levis for the same reason — but I was an actual consumer of their products before they decided to support the radical gun controllers.

          But that’s also because Levis don’t fit me particularly well, so what we have here is not so much a boycott as an opportunity for me to stroke my ego. I buy from Amazon despite their Leftist politics. I use Google products despite having many alternatives, although I don’t use their search as a default.

          The one and only issue likely to draw any kind of activism from me is gun politics, and that’s mostly because, next to speech, I see it as essential to the survival of the republic. Right or wrong, that’s what I believe. The Supreme Court protects speech, but it has been dilatory in protecting the Second Amendment, so I feel the cause needs extraordinary help.

          But what I don’t do is tell others they should join me in any purchasing decisions based on politics, and I manifestly do not go around joining social media mobs with pitchforks drawn. I presume you don’t either.

          Businesses should really stay out of the political support game.

          I couldn’t possibly agree more. If I were in a consumer-focused business, I would not alienate half my potential customers by political speech or contributions. I would lobby Congress if I could afford it for particular issues, because that’s both a constitutional right and a tried-and-true technique, or join pro-business association like the Chamber of Commerce or other such groups with ties in Washington.

          But I would not do any of the things companies do these days, like posture on social media or comment on social issues, let alone donate money to politicians, no matter how intense the pressure.

          Donate where I like and you don’t win any points with me, donate where I don’t like and I’ll hold a grudge.

          Grudges are evil, consume valuable life resources, and have no redeeming qualities whatever. I have been working for years on getting rid of them, and mostly, I have succeeded. I recommend that philosophy to you, realizing that it’s not for everybody. For example, my wife will hold a grudge until it dies of old age, then mount it’s remains on the mantle to look at and cherish.

          • Chamber of Commerce

            Since they exclusively funnel money to republicans membership is the equivalent of taking sides and it’s silly why waste money on the Chamber of Commerce cut when you can give it directly to anti-gay anti-choice Trump-loving police-brutality-loving theocrats.

            • Well, that just goes to show what you know about the Chamber. They often support pro-business Democrats, but no, Elizabeth Warren will not be getting a dime from them, that’s for sure.

              The rest of your comment is unworthy nonsense. You should slap yourself for saying it. Pathetic, inaccurate, and dishonest.

            • VG: I worked for the Chamber for 7 years, and know its CEO and other key figures personally. You literally don’t know what you’re talking about. (The President and CEO is a Democrat) Not that your misconception isn’t common, or that the Chamber isn’t partly responsible for its image.

        • Oh, I forgot to mention — Goya’s CEO has never given any money to the Trump campaign. He has given more money to Democrats than Republicans, overall, mostly to Bob Mendez. The closest he has come to donating to Trump was money to the RNC.

          • The company is privately owned and has annual revenues of $1.5 billion. Clearly the guy can say whatever the hell he wants. Boycott schmoycott. He must be laughing all the way to the bank. When has his company had a higher profile? What would it have cost the company to get this much exposure via traditional advertising. By the way, the company turned down a sale to The Carlyle Group just last year. How many billions could they have walked away with. How do you capitalize 1.5 billion of turnover? The cap rate has to be eight or nine.

        • Other than the fact that he did not give money to the President and that supporting the elected President of the US cannot be “bad,” good point!

          You are not having a good day.

  6. Michelle Obama endorsed Goya Foods supposedly to promote her weight loss program. Nobody said a peep about that. Anyway, in the long run this isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans.

      • That is just a legal reason. Michelle Obama was a defacto government official as first lady. She had a staff and budget. As such she had the power to hire and fire federal personnel.

        • You’re right, Chris. It was just as unethical for M. Obama to do that. Legally, there is a significant difference, but everyone knows that when the First Lady speaks, she speaks for more than just herself. And no, there was not a peep about it, because technically, you don’t have to peep about something that technically doesn’t violate a rule.

          But as we know, laws don’t define ethics. If it is wrong for the president to endorse a company because of the implications to the office, it is also unethical for his wife to do so. It is, in the vernacular of government, an “appearance of impropriety” and a tacit approval by proxy. It is an attempt to skirt the law.

          Reminds me of former President Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy trading on the office of the President to make beer. I was never okay with that, and even though it’s legal it’s also tawdry, cheapening to the office, disrespectful to his family member and blatantly unethical.

  7. Reagan had his jelly beans and we thought it was cute. Bush I just about put broccoli out of business. However, the winner for lowering the prestige of the office goes to Billy Beer under Jimmy Carter. There were days when that whole clan would hit the White House, including the mother Miss. Lilian, I wasn’t sure whether I was watching a White House photo op or a rerun of the Beverly Hillbillies. Who are we to deny the President his beans?

  8. For the President to use not only his position but the Oval Office to endorse any company’s product is an abuse of power and position,

    Agreed.

    and lowers the prestige and image of the Presidency.

    Nope, once in the sewer long enough, such a thing can never be completely deodorised. In the context of 100,000 deaths directly attributable to not just lack of leadership, but actual counterproductive efforts, it’s a bit like castigating Charles Manson for vandalising shops.

    Of the other 45,000 so far, some would have been prevented by competent leadership, but maybe 20,000 were unavoidable, and that in itself is a tragedy. Whether the numbers will double or triple by the end of 2021 is unknowable at this point, and largely unavoidale now the damage has been done.

    I fear what future officeholders will do, now there is no limit to what is tolerated. Impeachment is an empty threat.

    • Any blame being placed on the President for the virus is evidence of bias, Trump derangement, or other confusion. All one has to do is to review the documented advice from the CDC and the revered Dr. Fauci. Once the panicky decision were made to close colleges and school (neither by the President), and the NBA closed down after a two players got sick, there was little the President could do. He had no reliable data to make decisions, and his “leadership” ability had been substantially removed by three years of deliberate sabotage. You should know that whatever the results, the refrain from those who refuse to accept the legitimacy of his Presidency would be the same. The biggest botch came from the virtually criminal handling of the virus in NYC and New York State, where Cuomo is, outrageously, taking a victory lap and the news media is enabling him. Incredible.

      The second health officials made official exceptions for the George Floyd demonstrations/riots, any credibility they had was blown, and the reality should have been recognized. Any criticism of Trump in the pandemic is pure hindsight bias, one of the worst examples I’ve ever seen.

      • Compare and contrast. Bearing in mind we have a very low opinion of Australian politicians. So low, and based on the monumental stuff up that was the response to the bushfire crisis, that we were gobsmacked that they showed minimal competence here.

        It’s a matter of leadership, honesty, and empathy. Not qualities we’re used to seeing.

        Trump was not responsible for all the deaths. Just 100,000 and growing, due to vaccillation dishonesty, lack of any trace of empathy, and lack of leadership. Listening to those who told him what he wanted to hear, not what he needed to hear. Magical thinking.

        As for the BLM mass demonstrations – they happened in all Australian capital cities. All.

        One city had 4 cases that may be attributable to the demonstrations, though the timing makes that iffy. Compared to over 60 from a single low income residential apartment complex.

        None of the other cities had any such cases.

        Mask wearing outside, and keeping distance in either time or space, preferably both, appears to work well. Especially time. Moving crowds outside are comparatively safe. Sitting next to the same people for over 10 minutes indoors, not so much. Or so the evidence strongly suggests.

        • Trump was not responsible for all the deaths. Just 100,000 and growing, due to vaccillation dishonesty, lack of any trace of empathy, and lack of leadership. Listening to those who told him what he wanted to hear, not what he needed to hear. Magical thinking.

          Again, Zoe, this is the mantra and standard rhetoric, but its empty. “Empathy”? This is Clinton-nostalgia, when Bubba would bite his lip and say “I feel your pain.” Empathy is swell, but it has no effect on a virus. Clinton, also a narcissist, excelled in fake empathy. Trump doesn’t fake it, and it doesn’t make anyone sick. If his experts were saying in MARCH that the virus is no big deal, cherry picking what he “needed” to hear is profoundly unfair.Management involves making choices, then having the gust to change course when information changes. Calling it “vacillation” speaks of a jaundiced eye. The irony is that critics now say Trump should have been the autocrat they falsely accused him of being. Americans don’t take orders well. Good. In this case, however, it resulted in more cases of the virus.

        • I really would have expected better of you Zoe – this is a VIRUS – that means that Farr’s Law is entirely in effect. I other words, somewhere between 50% and 80% of the world population will get this virus. Some will die. Others will get very sick and recuperate. Yet others will have cold-like symptoms and recuperate. Others (perhaps the majority?) will be infected and never show any symptoms.

          Right now, the best figures that we have appear to indicate that there is a 99.94% survivor rate for this virus. Sure, some of this is based on hindsight knowledge, but on the other hand, Farr’s Law has been around for a very long time and has been correct for every virus epidemic and/or pandemic.

          • Some napkin maths… a back of the envelope “sanity check”

            99.96% survival rate.
            So 4 in 10,000 who are infected die.
            In the US, some 143,000 have died.
            Divide by 4, and you get a little over 35,000. Then multiply by 10,000 to get number of infections.

            That means 350,000,000 Americans have already been infected, out of a population of 330,000,000

            Feel free to check my calculations. Assume rounding error – survival rate of 99.955% would indicate all 320,000,000 Americans have already been infected.

            That suggests in turn that “survival rate” means compared to the entire population, whether infected or not. But only if no other COVID related deaths occur in future , and assuming rounding error.

            Our best data is that around 600 Americans are dying every day, and 60,000 newly infected.

            99.96% survival would lower expected daily death rate to… 24. Not 600.

            This is apparently what Trump believes has to be true, the higher figures being a Democrat Hoax to undermine his Presidency. According to his latest interview, he sees himself as a victim.

    • I believe that the case count and death counts are being exaggerated.

      Every positive test is considered a new case so people being retested to return to work that still test positive get counted twice. If geriatrics who are in their final days anyway test positive their ultimate death is treated as a covid death. Everyone that enters a hospital is tested and if they die there due to something else but were corona + the death will be treated as a covid death and the co morbity for which they needed care is secondary.

      Hospitals are being gauranteed full reimbursement for covid treatments so they benefit from adding covid + to the diagnosis codes.

      If anyone tells me a doctor or hospital administrator would not push to fudge the numbers for financial gain I have a bridge for sale.

      Everyday we hear of new case count records being set but very little on death counts, hospitalizations, days hospitalized, ventilator use and other relevant statistical data. We could set a record for new cases but no one will say how many present with no symptoms or even the severity of the infections.

      We are being led to believe that catching the virus is a death sentence. Finally, why is Fauci the only doctor we should listen to. I would suggest that a panel of doctors from different around the country be given an opportunity to weigh in officially and not rely on one man who has demonstrated his inability to assess risk early this year.

  9. You are saying the President should not promote American brands anywhere. If the President of the US is held accountable for the level of employment then he cannot be told he cannot promote American products that are being targeted for boycott. Your argument is sounder if no boycott was being promoted by his political adversaries.

    The ethical statement should be no person shall be targeted for economic ruin for engaging in legitimate political speech.

  10. Generally agree with all this, Jack. Ivanka should know better, and her dad does know better, he just can’t pass up an opportunity to anger his political opponents. As we have discussed here before, that is Trump’s super power — he takes every opportunity to outrage the Left, both endearing him to is rabid partisans and offering the Left the opportunity to embarrass themselves by overreacting, giving Trump a net win. It doesn’t work every time, but on balance, I’d say he’s ahead of the game.

    But the above does not reckon the damage he has done to the office of President by relentless and indiscriminate application of this political theory. It’s not shocking Ivanka would do something like this, because it’s exactly what she’d expect her father to do, and like father, like daughter. If a person is constantly exposed to Sicilian-style ethics from their father, who can be surprised if they embrace those ethics?

    He would defend the photo, I’m sure, saying something like, “Ethics Shmethics. I have the ability to prevent the attempted harm and harassment of a Hispanic-American success story being inflicted by assholes because the owner is a patriot, and it’s the right thing to do. I’m President, I can do it, so I did. Tell Nancy Pelosi to impeach me.”

    Yeh, “So sue [impeach] me” is kind of the motto of this administration, and on balance it has been effective. It is also wildly, blatantly, profoundly, and facially unethical. It diminishes the office, embraces a bloodthirsty vision of politics, spreads national discord and increases division.

    That’s quite a price to protect an unfairly-persecuted Hispanic-American company, but Trump is apparently willing to pay it. The problem is, he’s paying for it with the limited currency of the legitimacy of our highest office, and the presidents who have come before and will come after.

    I think that’s too high a price.

  11. The problem is, he’s paying for it with the limited currency of the legitimacy of our highest office, and the presidents who have come before and will come after.

    I think that’s too high a price.

    You assume there is some left, that the vaults of legitimacy are not filled with nothing but wooden nickels and IOUs… Though North Korea is worse, and China no better.

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