White House aides are reportedly concerned about the ethical implications of Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece allegedly using her aunt’s fame to promote her personal brand.
“That being said: Behavior needs to change,” the official noted.
In January, Meena flew to the inauguration in a private plane owned by a Biden donor and also wrote a book about her aunt and mother, titled Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, according to a Fox News report:
The book was published in June 2020, before Kamala was vice president, and thus breaks no laws. But White House officials told Politico the book couldn’t have been published today because it uses Kamala’s name and likeness. It’s unclear whether Meena is allowed to continue to draw royalties for the book, and she won’t say if she still is.
The day after the inauguration, transition ethics lawyers had to tell Meena she could not continue to sell a number of items for her clothing brand Phenomenal that beared her aunt’s name– the “Kamala Harris Swimsuit,” “phenomenal Kamala Tank,” and “Kamala T-shirt.” The items that appeared last fall are no longer listed on her site.
However, a white sweatshirt with the words “i’m speaking,” a phrase her aunt used during a debate with former Vice President Mike Pence, is listed for $59.
According to the Post, her latest book, Ambitious Girl, was released the night before her aunt was sworn into office and she has also appeared on the View and the Today Show, and was profiled in Vanity Fair and by the New York Times.
“A White House official went as far to say that the book bearing her aunt’s first name, along with a Phenomenal sweatshirt printed ‘Vice President Aunty,’ are not allowed under existing ethics rules,” the article read.
In a statement through a public relations firm, Meena reportedly said, “Since the beginning of the campaign, I have insisted on upholding all legal and ethical standards and will continue to strictly adhere to the ethics rules of the Biden/Harris White House.”
“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,” she concluded.