When Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue appeared next to Donald Trump in the White House Rose Garden for a Hispanic leadership event last week — and had the nerve to offer words of praise for the president — the cancellation was quick and inevitable.
If you were on the left and you could pretend you knew how to spell “sazón” without googling it to find where the accent went (and also what sazón was), you were outraged. If you had a blue check mark, you let the world know you weren’t going to buy any of Goya’s wares again, or at least until this was such a distant memory that Page Six photographers wouldn’t bother taking a picture of you putting Malta Goya in your shopping cart.
Some of the most famous Goya boycotters, it should be noted, were politicians. In fact, the two most prominent individuals I can think of were a sitting congresswoman and a Democratic presidential candidate:
Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling “how to make your own Adobo” https://t.co/YOScAcyAnC
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 10, 2020
.@GoyaFoods has been a staple of so many Latino households for generations.
Now their CEO, Bob Unanue, is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain. Americans should think twice before buying their products. #Goyaway https://t.co/lZDQlK6TcU
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) July 9, 2020
And then there was the Goya buy-cott, a sign of support for Unanue, both for his comments about Trump and for his later refusal to walk them back.
The most famous of Goya’s new supporters was probably the first daughter, Ivanka Trump.
“If it’s Goya, it has to be good,” Ivanka’s tweet read, echoing the company’s slogan. She also included it en español: “Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno.”
So naturally, there’s an ethics complaint against her now.
If it’s Goya, it has to be good.
Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno. pic.twitter.com/9tjVrfmo9z
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) July 14, 2020
According to the Washington Examiner, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint Friday with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics over the tweet, which the citizens’ group says is an “apparent violation of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch.”
CREW nominally is a nonpartisan organization in the same way every politician running for office is nominally interested in working across the aisle in a bipartisan fashion. If you want to acquaint yourself with how CREW rolls, simply look at the front page of its website, which — as of Saturday morning — didn’t contain a single link to a fresh, meaningless outrage that doesn’t have something to do with either the president or a Trump administration official.
On Ivanka’s hill of beans: “Federal ethics regulations prohibit any employee from endorsing ‘any product, service or enterprise,’ ” CREW said on its website. “While it may seem silly to be focused on a can of beans, a White House trying to direct business to supporters of the president is a massive ethics problem. And for this White House, it is just one more example of unchecked corruption.”
“This is not just about beans; it’s another example of a disturbing pattern of this administration acting to benefit the businesses of the president’s supporters,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement on the website. “In the midst of a worsening pandemic, senior administration officials should not be focused on the promotion of an ally’s business and should not be providing official incentives for businesses to support them politically. Senior Trump officials continue to act like ethics laws [do] not apply to them.”
The letter CREW sent to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, addressed to the director, the Honorable Emory Rounds, was more detailed and yet only slightly less fatuous.
“The circumstances would lead any reasonable person to conclude her Goya Foods posts represented an official government endorsement intended to counteract the negative effect of any boycott,” the letter read.
“In particular, when viewed in the context of President Trump’s own contemporaneous social media messages about the company, any argument to the contrary would be disingenuous. As a result, Ms. Trump appears to have clearly violated the Standards of Conduct barring her from using her government position, title or any authority associated with her public office to endorse any product, service, or enterprise.”
Except no. No reasonable person would conclude the White House was endorsing Goya, no more than they would conclude Ocasio-Cortez was issuing an official government rebuke against Goya.
“As has been reiterated prior, this tweet was made in her personal capacity voicing her personal support,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany when asked about the complaint, according to The Hill. “This complaint is another politically motivated, baseless attack from an organization with a vendetta against all of the administration.”
For the moment, Goya Foods is a political accoutrement. It is to your pantry what a Toyota Prius was to your garage in 2008. It says a lot about who you are at the moment. (Goya’s products also cost a lot less than a Prius and taste a lot better.)
The point is that this isn’t about advertising. It’s about aligning yourself with (or decoupling yourself from) a company whose CEO made a bold and controversial stand.
McEnany is right inasmuch as this is something Ivanka Trump clearly was doing in a personal capacity.
CREW’s letter said Trump “holds one of the most highly visible positions in the government and, as both a top presidential advisor and the President’s daughter, she is recognized as a member of President Trump’s innermost circle.”
The letter also notes that her Instagram profile lists her as “Advisor to POTUS on job creation + economic empowerment, workforce development & entrepreneurship.”
All of which is profoundly unconvincing, since all of those positions are nebulous and none were brought up in the context of Ivanka showing her support for Goya Foods.
The post said, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good.”
It didn’t say, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good. I should know, I’m a top presidential adviser, and I’m recognized as a member of the president’s innermost circle.”
I mean, if she did say that, by golly, they’d have her.
But no such luck for the left.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.