State Dept. deletes retweet promoting Ivanka Trump’s book

PHOTO: A woman walks past a shelf displaying Ivanka Trumps book "Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success" at a Barnes and Noble bookstore in New York, May 2, 2017.PlayJewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
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Less than two weeks after a firestorm over a controversial blog post, the State Department found itself in hot water again on Thursday for publishing material that critics say promotes Trump family business interests.

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The Twitter account for the department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues retweeted a post by White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump in which she touts her new book.

Her book -- “Women Who Work” -- draws its name from a marketing campaign she began for her eponymous fashion brand.

Shortly after the retweet was noticed by journalists, the department took it down.

The Office of Global Women’s Issues is a small division that seeks to “promote the rights and empowerment of women and girls through U.S. foreign policy,” according to the State Department. It is headed by an ambassador-at-large, but that role has been vacant under the Trump administration.

The retweet does not break any laws, ethics experts say, but it could violate federal rules against using public office to promote commercial products or using government resources, like Twitter accounts, for unauthorized purposes.

The State Department declined to comment for this story.

The incident mirrors the firestorm last week over a State Department blog post that critics said promoted Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s private Florida golf club. The department was forced to remove the post and apologize after intense public pressure.

Ivanka Trump had previously announced she would not go on tour to promote her book, saying, “Out of an abundance of caution and to avoid the appearance of using my official role to promote the book, I will not publicize the book through a promotional tour or media appearances.”

But she has used social media to plug it, including the tweet shared by the State Department. This does not break any rules as long as it is on her personal page, according to Jordan Libowitz of the ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

President Trump and his administration have faced scrutiny over the Trump family's relationship to its businesses during his presidency -- from the use of the president's club Mar-a-Lago for government business to senior adviser Kellyanne Conway’s promotion of Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing on a morning television show.

“Once you can shrug off. Twice is a coincidence, but now it’s a pattern – and it’s one that really needs to be addressed,” Libowitz said.

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