Beans, beans, the controversial fruit.
Goya beans are sold throughout the U.S. and Canada, but they became a political flashpoint last week when CEO Robert Unanue praised U.S. President Donald Trump‘s leadership at a White House event.
“We’re all truly blessed … to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” he said at the time.
The comments outraged many Latinos, particularly in light of Trump’s well-documented history of demonizing Hispanic migrants as “rapists” and “criminals,” and his vow to build a wall that would keep them out of the U.S.
The boycott has been picking up steam in recent days, with Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and celebrity Chrissy Teigen joining the movement. Many Trump supporters, including actor James Woods, have vowed to buy more Goya in response to the boycott.
Ivanka Trump, who has a taxpayer-funded job as Advisor to the President, pushed back against the boycott on Tuesday night in a bizarre commercial-style tweet. The tweet shows Trump — a former model — holding up a can of beans and smiling like Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune.
“If it’s Goya, it has to be good,” the first half of the tweet says. That message is repeated in Spanish on the second line of the tweet.
The response was fierce and immediate.
“Goya f–k yourself,” wrote political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen, in the most-liked response to Ivanka’s tweet.
“This family will sell ANYTHING,” added the Lincoln Project, a Republican political action committee that opposes Trump’s re-election.
“BEANGHAZI!” wrote Twitter personality The Volatile Mermaid. “LOCK HER UP!”
“If it’s Trump, it has to be corrupt,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in Spanish.
The tweet also triggered a flurry of accusations that Ivanka may have violated the Hatch Act, a law that prohibits White House staff from endorsing products or partisan causes.
“Misuse of position, it’s what’s for dinner,” tweeted Walter Shaub, the former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. Shaub resigned as ethics chief in 2017, amid concerns that the Trump administration did not seem to care about ethical governance.
“You’re kidding me, right?” Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. Attorney in Alabama, wrote in response to Ivanka’s tweet. “No ethics left in this White House on Issues big or small.”
Michael McFaul, the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia under Barack Obama, also flagged the tweet as an ethics violation.
“Had I done this while working at the White House during the Obama administration, I would have been fired, probably on the same day, but surely by the following day,” he wrote.
President Trump piped up to support Goya in a tweet on Wednesday morning, without specifically mentioning his daughter’s photoshoot.
“@GoyaFoods is doing GREAT,” he wrote. “The Radical Left smear machine backfired, people are buying like crazy!”
The president later joined his daughter in flouting the ethics rules with a pro-Goya Instagram post. The post shows Trump in the Oval Office with various Goya products arranged on his desk. He is giving two thumbs up and flashing a rare, toothy grin.
A spokesperson for the White House dismissed the accusations against Ivanka Trump in a statement on Wednesday morning.
“Only the media and the cancel culture movement would criticize Ivanka for showing her personal support for a company that has been unfairly mocked, boycotted and ridiculed for supporting this administration,” spokesperson Carolina Hurley wrote in a statement to CBS News.
“Ivanka is proud of this strong, Hispanic-owned business with deep roots in the U.S. and has every right to express her personal support.”
The Trump administration took no action last year after an investigation revealed that Kellyanne Conway, a counsellor to the president, had violated the Hatch Act by pushing Ivanka Trump’s private company on Twitter and through Fox News.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which conducted the investigation, had recommended that Conway be fired for her actions.
While many clamoured for Ivanka to be punished over the tweet, others seized on it as an opportunity for humour.
“Photoshop Twitter is about to wreck you,” user @jumoffit wrote, correctly forecasting the flurry of images that would follow.
Critics altered the photo to show Ivanka “promoting” various other items, including the coronavirus and the president’s niece Mary Trump’s new book, which the president failed to block in court.
Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, opted to forgo salaries when they joined the Trump administration. They reported outside income of at least US$82 million in 2017 and up to $135 million in 2018, according to the White House’s annual financial disclosure reports.
President Trump and his White House staff were due to file their disclosure reports in May, but they’ve been granted two 45-day extensions to file the papers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.