August 4, 2021

White House scrambles to reconcile Kamala Harris family ethics conflict

As you’re probably already aware, President Joe Biden has a bit of an optics issue when it comes to family and friends benefiting from his high-profile name.

According to Fox News, it seems as if Vice President Kamala Harris is causing something of a White House crisis with her extremely ambitious, entrepreneurial niece who has cashed in on her aunt’s surging popularity since being selected as Biden’s running mate for the 2020 election. 

Meena Harris, a 36-year-old grad of Stanford and Harvard Law, is creating somewhat of a headache for Biden’s White House, as she’s made a few moves recently that have drawn increased scrutiny.

Aside from selling merchandise with her aunt’s likeness in the months leading up to the 2020 election, Meena Harris most recently slipped up after she felt the urge to post to Instagram pictures of her flying in a private jet to her aunt’s inauguration — a private jet owned by a Biden mega-donor.

The new Biden White House actually had to intervene in Meena Harris’ business ventures in the days after the inauguration to put a halt to her selling merchandise under her Phenomenal brand. The merchandise in question had names like “Kamala Harris Swimsuit” and the “Kamala Harris T-shirt.”

A spokesperson for the vice president issued a statement recently on the matter, as it began to draw more criticism, especially with the looming PR crisis that the Bidens are still facing.

“The Vice President and her family will uphold the highest ethical standards and it’s the White House’s policy that the Vice President’s name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities that could reasonably be understood to imply an endorsement or support,” the spokesperson said.

Ethics lawyers were also forced to intervene recently when Meena Harris collaborated with Beats by Dre, allowing the company to imprint the phrase “The First But Not The Last” on its popular line of headphones. Meena Harris and her company mailed out the custom headphones to a number of celebrities and influencers prior to the inauguration but failed to disclose the venture to Biden’s transition lawyers, as Axios reported.

Also, Meena Harris is under a microscope after forming Phenomenal Productions — a venture she launched with former Obama White House staffer Brad Jenkins. On the day before the January 20 inauguration, her production company produced an ad for the Supermajority Education Fund. If her company was reimbursed for the ad, it could be a violation of White House policy, though it’s still unclear whether she was paid for the two-minute video or not.

While compared to other issues, this one is certainly on the minor side, but again, it’s not a great look for an administration already under fire for how family members have benefited from their popularity.

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