Ivanka Trump’s Private Fund for Women Rattles Ethics Experts

Ivanka Trump

According to an Axios report, President Trump’s eldest daughter has proposed the creation of a “massive fund” for women to “economically empower” them. The fund will get cash from corporations and foreign governments. However, the initiative concerns ethics experts because a private fund under Ivanka’s direct control would spark a flurry of conflicts of interest.

Private and Public Sectors Already Pouring Money in the Fund

Axios reported Wednesday that the media startup’s co-founder Mike Allen learned from Ivanka that the White House was already raising money for the fund. The money will be used to offer capital to small and medium-sized businesses. The businesswoman unveiled that her father and the World Bank Group president Jim Yong Ki are both backing the project.

The World Bank confirmed they are in talks with the Trump administration on the best ways to finance the fund. Kim and Ivanka reportedly called for public and private sectors to get more involved in investing in women.

It is unclear how the fund will be operated- as an individual initiative, a for-profit endeavor, or if it will be managed by the U.S. government. Ethics experts, though, agree it would not be ok for the First Daughter to run the fund in a private capacity because her position as senior White House official could give the impression that she is managing it on behalf of her dad’s administration which would cause all sorts of conflicts of interest.

Ethics Experts Concerned

Richard Painter, who worked as an ethics adviser under George W. Bush, said Ivanka should “absolutely not” run the fund as a private foundation. An administration official cannot bundle money for a private organization. We have the case of Hillary Clinton who had to leave her family’s private foundation when she became Secretary of State.

The expert added that the White House should not “even think” of creating a private foundation. Instead, they could run it through a federal agency which is allowed under the law to accept gifts and manage funds.

Kathleen Clark, an ethics professor at Washington University, underlined that the recent report suggests Ivanka’s fund would be seeking investments, not gifts. Plus, the wording “massive fund” suggests it will be run privately.

Axios also reported that “several corporations” promised to make investments during backdoor negotiations. In addition, Canada, some countries in the Middle East, and Germany said they will participate. It is unclear whether the governments of these countries will make the donations or private entities.

Update: The Washington Post found in the meantime that the White House will not control the fund. White House sources confirmed the fund was Ivanka’s idea to support businesswomen, but she will not manage it. Sources added that there is a high likelihood World Bank experts will manage it.

In an update, Axios confirmed that the international financial group will administer the fund. World Bank’s Kim described the initiative as a “facility for women’s economic empowerment,” which would give them access to markets and capital. The banker thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ivanka for their involvement in the project.
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