Meena Harris’ ventures becoming a sensitive issue in Biden-Harris White House: report.
Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris has been reportedly cautioned by White House legal team not to “build her brand” by using her Indian American aunt’s fame.
Meena Harris’ ventures have become a sensitive issue in the Biden-Harris administration with White House aides increasingly concerned about the ethical implications of the promotional pattern, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Five days before Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president, Meena appeared on the “Today” show for an interview conducted by Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, the newspaper recalled.
Meena, 36, discussed the historic nature of the moment, along with a pitch for her latest children’s book, “Ambitious Girl,” released on the eve of the inauguration.
She wore a pink sweatshirt emblazoned with the word “Ambitious” in large type, plugging a popular item in her Phenomenal brand clothing line.
The television appearance, like others in recent months, demonstrated the degree to which Meena has meshed her personal brand with her aunt’s ascendant political career, the LA Times noted.
Meena, who was an unpaid campaign representative, has over time capitalized on Kamala Harris’ name, likeness, life history and political slogans to produce clothing, videos, bestselling children’s books and designer headphones, it said
Her promotional activities and close involvement in her aunt’s career have long raised eyebrows among Kamala Harris’ aides and advisors, according to the newspaper.
The younger Harris — a Harvard-trained lawyer who previously worked at Uber along with her stepfather, Tony West — started a company four years ago that sells socially conscious T-shirts and sweatshirts, often worn by celebrities and posted on her Instagram, TikTok and other social media accounts alongside selfies she takes with her aunt, the Times said.
“There is increasing concern that the personal branding endeavors will bring the vice president unwanted scrutiny now that her stature is at a new high.”
“Some things can’t be undone,” an unnamed White House official was quoted as saying. “That being said: Behavior needs to change.”
“We’ve been attacking the Trumps for years on all of the gross grifting,” an unnamed former advisor to Kamala Harris was quoted as saying. “We ought to be much cleaner.”
After Biden and Harris won the election, the transition team’s ethics lawyers told Meena that she could no longer produce clothing or write new books with her aunt’s name or likeness, the LA Times said citing a White House official.
Meena, according to the Times, would not say whether she continues to collect royalties from her first book, which features her aunt’s name and image on the cover.
A White House official cited by the daily said the book, along with “Vice President Aunty” sweatshirts, Harris-themed swimsuits and other products previously sold, were not allowed under the current rules.
“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,” Meena said in a statement provided by a public relations firm to the Times.
“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.”
The Biden White House has posted an aggressive ethics policy for appointees but has not published rules for family. An aide was quoted as saying there is a process for family representatives to review questions with the White House counsel’s office as they arise.
The administration has said it will bar family members from serving on boards of foreign-owned companies and will generally forbid them from private-sector activities that create an appearance of a conflict of interest, the Times noted.
“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,” vice presidential spokesperson Sabrina Singh was quoted as saying in a statement.