Trump, daughter Ivanka tout Goya Foods after praise from CEO

Josh Wingrove and Ari Natter

Donald Trump touted Goya Foods products from the Oval Office on Wednesday as the company faces a consumer boycott because its chief executive officer praised the president.

Trump posted a picture on Instagram showing him sitting at his desk giving two thumbs up with five Goya products displayed in front of him, including kidney beans and chocolate wafers. He also posted an image five days ago saying he loves Goya, using a red heart to denote his affection for the company.

The president’s social media activity on Wednesday – which also included a tweet in support of Goya – followed a photo tweeted the night before by his daughter and senior aide, Ivanka Trump, holding a can of Goya black beans.

The image of Ivanka Trump drew criticism from government watchdog groups, who said it violates federal rules against top White House employees endorsing particular companies. Those rules apply to Ivanka Trump, as a member of White House staff, but not the president, said government ethics specialists.

Rules governing product endorsements are largely toothless. It’s essentially up to the White House to apply any discipline – meaning the president would have to authorize any reprimand of his daughter after he promoted Goya in the same way.

The Goya plugs from the Trumps come after Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue took part in a White House event on Hispanic prosperity last week, in which he praised the president. “By the way, we’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” he said.

The endorsement drew criticism from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and calls for a boycott that gained traction on social media. Trump has courted Hispanic votes while also cracking down on southern border crossings, encouraging deportations and saying “rapists” were coming across the border from Mexico.

Watchdogs warned that Ivanka Trump’s support for Goya may violate rules. “You can’t use your official position to promote a private business,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group. “I think in a commonsense way this is an obvious violation.” He called it “a direct political response to help Goya, which helps the administration.”

The White House dismissed the criticisms.

“Only the media and the cancel culture movement would criticize Ivanka for showing her personal support for a company that has been unfairly mocked, boycotted and ridiculed for supporting this administration,” White House spokeswoman Carolina Hurley said in a statement issued before the president’s Instagram post. “Ivanka is proud of this strong, Hispanic-owned business with deep roots in the U.S. and has every right to express her personal support.”

The administration has run afoul of ethics rules before, with Ivanka Trump’s company at the center of one episode. In 2017, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics said senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was in “clear violation” of the rules when she used part of a television appearance to urge viewers to buy products from Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.

The OGE, however, said it has no “actual investigative authority” and it recommended the White House discipline Conway. Then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Conway was “counseled.” The OGE declined to comment Wednesday on Ivanka Trump’s post.