Vice President Kamala Harris’ social-media-influencer niece has long used her aunt’s fame to boost her own personal brand – but now that Harris has entered the White House, aides have become increasingly concerned about the ethical implications of the promotional pattern, according to a report.
“Some things can’t be undone,” a White House official, speaking about niece Meena Harris, 36, on the condition of anonymity, told The Los Angeles Times.
“That being said, behaviour needs to change,” the official said of Meena, whose ventures have reportedly become a sensitive issue in the newly formed Biden-Harris White House.
The Vice-President’s niece is a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur who boasts more than 800,000 followers on Instagram, where her posts range from political to personal.
She is the author of children’s books, including one titled Kamala And Maya’s Big Idea, and she is the founder of a women’s charitable clothing brand called Phenomenal.
Her latest book, Ambitious Girl, was released the night before her aunt was sworn in as the first female vice president and woman of colour in the White House.
Meena has also appeared on The View and the Today show, and was profiled this year in Vanity Fair and by The New York Times.
After the election, White House lawyers told the her she could not produce any products that used her aunt’s name or likeness, a White House official reportedly told The LA Times.
They went as far as to say that the book bearing her aunt’s first name, along with a Phenomenal sweatshirt printed with “Vice President Aunty”, are not allowed under existing ethics rules, the paper reported.
But even after federal lawyers briefed Meena on the new rules she must follow, she still flew on a private plane to the inauguration with a Biden donor and shared the trip on Instagram, according to The LA Times.
Her online store also continues to tell shirts printed with the viral quote ‘I’m speaking’ – words spoken by her aunt during a debate with then-Vice-President Mike Pence.
In a statement provided to The LA Times via a public relations firm, Meena defended her practices.
“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,” she reportedly said.
“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.”
This story originally appeared on the New York Post and is reproduced here with permission