In a tweet on Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump made an endorsement for L.L. Bean, a company based in Maine, after the heiress to the company made what was found to be an illegal donation to the Trump campaign.
Back in August, L.L. Bean donated $30,000 to a political action committee, Making America Great Again L.L.C., which falsely represented itself as a super PAC. A super PAC is an organization which can accept as many donations from any person or business, but unlike a super PAC, a traditional political action committee may only accept contributions up to $5,000. According to an executive chairman of the company, Linda Bean acted independently and her political values are not represented or endorsed by the company.
Hope Hicks, A spokesperson for Trump, stated that “Mr. Trump was merely thanking her for her support.” The tweet calls for people to buy L.L. Bean products.
Law forbids government employees in the executive branch from taking these actions, but that law does not apply to the president or president-elect. As a businessman, this behavior is not unusual, but from a man in his position, as a man who will be inheriting the oval office in just one week from Friday, it is unprecedented and highly unethical.
If this was truly intended to be a simple thank-you message, it was done on the wrong platform in the wrong way. For Trump to publicly endorse a company for supporting him and using his power as president-elect to attempt to earn it business in return should be raising some red flags not only for members of the ethics committee but for all citizens of the U.S. This has potential for opening a window for companies to earn Trump’s favor so they too could get endorsements. It has quid pro quo written all over it.