Can’t Use VP Harris’ Name: White House Amid Row Over Meena’s Brand

The statement said that the family will follow the highest of all ethical standards.

Updated
World
3 min read
Advisors to the Biden government have reportedly flagged ethical concerns over Meena using her aunt’s identity. 
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Amid ethical concerns over Meena Harris’ usage of her aunt Kamala Harris’ identity for her own lifestyle brand, the White House has said that the Vice President’s name should not be mentioned for commercial activities.

The statement, issued by Vice Presidential Spokesperson Sabrina Singh, also said that the family will follow the highest of all ethical standards.

“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.”
Sabrina Singh, Vice Presidential Spokesperson

Why did Meena face ethical questions?

Advisors to the newly-installed Biden administration are growing increasing uncomfortable with ethical questions raised over the conduct of Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris, who allegedly uses her aunt’s identity in promoting her own lifestyle brand, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The report sets the context of its theme on the “Today” show, on which Meena Harris appeared to talk about her aunt’s campaign, just five days before Kamala Harris’ swearing in ceremony.

During the show, Harris promoted her latest children’s book titled Ambitious Girl , which was released a day ahead of the swearing-in ceremony. She was also wearing a pink sweatshirt that is one of the most popular items in her clothing line – Phenomenal.

According to the report, a While House official said he was taken aback by the TV show segment, while adding that Meena Harris, who worked on the campaign without pay, wouldn’t have been so visible had she not been the Vice President’s niece.

What sweat over a sweatshirt?

White House insiders fear that the blurring of boundaries between Meena Harris’ business ventures and her proximity and use of symbols associated with her aunt could spell trouble for the Vice President’s office, the report says.

Following the victory of Biden, Meena Harris had been asked by the transition team’s ethics lawyers to refrain from producing clothes or write books using her aunt’s identity, as products using the Vice President’s name that were sold earlier were prohibited under current rules.

Is Meena Harris alone?

President Joe Biden had recently faced flak after his brother Frank Biden flaunted his connections to the White House in an attempt to promote a law firm the latter works with in Florida.

  • Speaking to a local television, Frank, who works for the Berman Law Group, said that the two have always been close and are even “closer now.” The President’s brother however, appeared in a black T-shirt with TBT – which stands for The Berman Team” – emblazoned on it.
  • Joe Biden’s second son Hunter Biden’s presence on the board of an Ukrainian private energy company while his father was the points person for US-Ukrainian relations during the Obama administration had snowballed into a massive controversy.
  • Former US President Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy had openly promoted Billy Beer while his teetotaling brother sat in the oval room.

What is Meena’s Indian controversy about?

While Phenomenal continues to sell in the online store along with a sweatshirt that reads “I am speaking”, which was Kamala Hariss’ response to former Vice President Mike Pence during a debate, Meena Harris had recently been vocal about the farmers protest in India.

Asserting that democracy is under assault, Harris said that everyone should be outraged by India’s “internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protests.”

What is Meena Hariss’ Response?

While Meena Harris refused to offer a written response to Los Angeles Times, a statement sent on her behalf by a public relations firm said that said that she adhered to all legal and ethical standards.

With regards to Phenomenal, it was always our plan to remove the likeness of the Vice President from the website before the Inauguration, and refrain from using her likeness in any products or campaigns going forward.”
Statement From Meena Harris’ PR team.

While it is not known if Vice President Kamala Harris has had a word with Meena on this, Richard Painter, the ethics czar for President George W Bush, told LA Times that the VP could legally prevent her family members from using her name and plead them to not get on planes with contributors.

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