Government Ethics Office Rebukes White House Over Handling of Kellyanne Conway Violation

kellyanne_conway_by_gage_skidmore_3I recently criticized the ethics complaint filed against Presidential Advisor Kellyanne Conway by 15 ethics law professors. For full disclosure, Conway is one of my former students at George Washington University Law School (she graduated in 1995). I criticized the complaint as highly political with little foundation. The only aspect of the complaint that was not frivolous was the allegation that Conway violated the federal rule against endorsing commercial products in light of her comments about Ivanka’s line of clothing and jewelry. As I stated, Conway did violate the rule and I believe that she should have been punished with an official reprimand or some other equivalent measure.  However, I viewed the violation as part of a tongue-in-cheek retort to the controversy. The White House reached the same conclusion that there was no “nefarious” intent but it also declined to impose any formal punishment.  That decision has led to a relatively rare rebuke fromOffice of Governmental Ethics Director Walter Shaub.  Referring to Conway’s “free commercial,” Shaub expressed dismay over the failure to impose any punishment and further chastised deputy White House counsel Stefan Passantino for his explanation for the lack of any discipline.

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Washington State To Move To Extend Restraining Order To Second Executive Order

washington-flag-sealdonald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedWe just discussed the move in Hawaii to secure a new restraining order to cover the second Trump executive order.  That was the most likely move that we previously discussed.  The other option was to seek to extend the existing restraining order to cover the second executive order on the grounds that there was not a substantial change.  That is the option that Washington state is taking. Today, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson indicated that he will ask that Judge James Robart’s Feb. 3 ruling be extended on the grounds that the second Executive Order contains the same alleged violations as the first.

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The United Arab Emirates Arrests Vacationing Couple For Sex Outside Of Marriage After Doctor Discovers That Ukrainian Woman Is Pregnant

The United Arab Emirates have supplied the most recent example of the Sharia legal system in the Muslim world.  South African Emlyn Culverwell‚ 29, and his Ukrainian fiancée Iryna Nohai, 27, were arrested after Nohai wemt to the doctor over stomach pains.  In the UAE doctors appear to have no notion of confidentiality (or humanity) and informed the police when he discovered that she was pregnant.  Since she had not yet married Culverwell, that meant that they had violated the Islamic code against sex outside of marriage — even though the impregnation occurred outside of the UAE.  They are criminally charged.

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White House: Kellyanne Conway Acted “Without Nefarious Motive”

kellyanne_conway_by_gage_skidmore_3I recently discussed the ethics complaint filed against Presidential Advisor Kellyanne Conway by 15 ethics law professors. For full disclosure, Conway is one of my former students at George Washington University Law School (she graduated in 1995). I criticized the complaint as highly political with little foundation. The only aspect of the complaint that was not frivolous was the allegation that Conway violated the federal rule against endorsing commercial products in light of her comments about Ivanka’s line of clothing and jewelry. As I stated, Conway did violate the rule though I viewed the violation as part of a tongue-in-cheek retort to the controversy. It still warranted a formal reprimand in my view but not an ethics charge or more serious action. The White House appears to have reached essentially the same conclusion though there is no indication of a formal reprimand as opposed to a public confirmation that Conway has been “counseled” and will not commit such a violation again.

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Ninth Circuit Briefing Completed Today For Ruling On Trump Appeal

200px-US-CourtOfAppeals-9thCircuit-Seal.svgdepartment-of-justice-logo1 The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will have a completed record for its review of the lower court’s stay of the Trump immigration executive order this afternoon. While much has been made of the court declined to issue an immediate stay of the lower court under the earlier emergency motion, the decision was very predictable. The Court instead ordered for an expedited response from the states of Washington and Minnesota. That argument is complete today. What remains is a relatively rare procedural process in seeking to review a temporary restraining order (TRO) before the issuance of a written opinion, let alone a permanent injunction.

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Chinese Chief Justice: Courts Must Reject “Erroneous ” Western Concepts Of Independence And Support The Party

zhouqiangFor those brave reformers who have struggled to introduce the semblance of a true judiciary and the rule of law in China, the recent interview of Chief Justice Zhou Qiang must have been devastating. Zhou told lawyers and judges that they needed to avoid the temptation of the West in wanting an independent judiciary that follows the rule of law. With that, Zhou placed himself in history as a voice for injustice — a lawyer who committed his life to fighting against the law.

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