Goya president Robert Unanue sparked outrage and a boycott when he offered empathic support for President Donald Trump. Goya is the largest Hispanic-owned company in the US, and sells a number of regional foods that are popular with Hispanic Americans. However, by claiming that the US is “blessed” to have Trump as leader, Unanue incensed many Hispanic leaders and customers.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for one, criticized the company for signaling its support of a president she characterizes as racist. Trump, for his own part, campaigned on a promise of building a border wall between the US and Mexico. Of course, such a wall never came to fruition, nor did Trump’s claims that Mexico would pay for it.
On her personal Twitter account, Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a White House advisor, posted a picture of herself holding a can of Goya beans. The caption on the image reads “If it’s Goya, is has to be good,” and repeats that sentence in Spanish. The move, beyond being tacky and trolling, could also have been a government ethics violation.
The White House claims that Ivanka was acting as a private citizen in endorsing the food company.
On Twitter, former director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub pointed out the impropriety of the endorsement.
To this, Shaub said, “If you tout the company’s product in an obvious response to the backlash the company is facing for the CEO’s remarks about your father-president, you knowingly link your account in people’s minds to your official activities; you create the appearance of official sanction.”
It’s unlikely that Ivanka will face any repercussions for violating the ethics guidelines. After all, her boss is the president, her own father. For Ivanka to be reprimanded in any way, Donald Trump would have to sign off on any disciplinary action. It’s hard to picture Trump having ever issued Ivanka disciplinary action, let alone at the behest of his political opponents.
However, this situation sets a precedent, Shaub writes. It’s a huge issue, because it “creates the appearance that the government’s endorsement is for sale. Endorse the President and the administration will endorse your product.”
It is unclear at the time of this writing if the boycotts against Goya have had any tangible effect on the company’s bottom line. However, Unanue and Trump have both maintained that the company is doing well in spite of the boycott.