VP Harris’s niece Meena Harris has been warned about her ethical issues

The Trump “administration” was an unethical quagmire. Normal, regular old people were suddenly parsing the wording of the Emoluments Clause and non-lawyers were boning up on the regulatory issues of Ivanka Trump’s clothing label. The Trump-owned hotel in Washington became ground zero for influence-peddlers and Trump sycophants. It was all one big grift, and the American people were the marks. Well, I didn’t realize before now that VP Harris’s niece Meena Harris is a self-styled influencer and author who profits from branded items having to do with her aunt. Wooo, that is NOT good. It’s not a good look at all. I know this is coming from the NY Post, but other outlets are running similar pieces too.

Vice President Kamala Harris’ social-media-influencer niece Meena Harris 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: Behavior needs to change,” the official said of the niece Harris, whose ventures have reportedly become a sensitive issue in the newly formed Biden-Harris White House. Harris 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 color in the White House. The niece 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 younger Harris she could not produce any products that used the veep’s name or likeness, a White House official reportedly told The LA Times.

A White House official went as far to say that the book bearing her aunt’s first name, along with a Phenomenal sweatshirt printed “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 sweatshirts 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, Harris 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. 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.”

[From The NY Post]

Considering VP Harris is a badass lawyer, I suspect that she already knew that her niece’s ventures were and are an ethical nightmare for her. I wonder if Kamala Harris was trying to avoid being the bad guy to her niece though? I wonder if she was like “the White House lawyers need to talk to you” and just let Meena deal with it on her own. I mean… it’s not Ivanka-level. It’s not Don Jr level (remember, the RNC bought copies of Don’s stupid book?). But that’s not saying much. No one is saying that Meena can’t be an Instagram influencer, by the way. It’s just that she can’t profit from – or be seen as loosely profiting from – her connection to her aunt. Meena needs to follow the White House lawyers’ guidance to the T.


Photos courtesy of Meena’s IG.

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42 Responses to “VP Harris’s niece Meena Harris has been warned about her ethical issues”

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  1. Astrid says:

    It’s not on the same level of Trump grift but it doesn’t look good for the VP

    • John R. says:

      She’d really be nothing without her aunt and it was tacky to let herself be profiled in major publications…and sell merch related to Kamala…and to believe that anyone actually cares about her literary endeavor (a book???).

  2. smee says:

    Wasn’t Jared Kushner, Stump’s Son in Law, paid by the White House? Or did they forgo a salary and just got paid in publicity? Either way, seems way more egregious cash-in than this gal

  3. lucy2 says:

    As long as Meena removes any products that violate the rules, it’s…fine? Maybe I’m just desensitized to this sort of thing after the last 4 years, but I’m not seeing this as a big deal, at least not yet.

    • Case says:

      Agreed. This didn’t even really register for me as an issue, but I can see how Meena is capitalizing on her aunt’s new status and see how that’s problematic. I guess it just didn’t stand out as problematic on its own after the last nightmarish four years, lol. As you said, if she removes the products that violate the rules, I don’t see a problem here.

    • Chaine says:

      ITA. I don’t give a rat’s behind what a private citizen does with their Instagram influencing and T-shirts with sayings on them. She’s not working for the government, she’s not VP Harris’s actual child, and she has a right to profit off whatever the F she wants to after we’ve seen four years of president and his immediate family members enriching themselves on the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars due to his position. I just do not care any more whether it’s ethical or not.

  4. Ann says:

    I’m more annoyed about the amount of right wing outrage that is to come because of this than the actual ethics violation. It certainly is not a good look for Kamala Harris or the Biden administration but it’s not on par with defrauding a children’s cancer charity. Of course none of that matters to idiot trumpers so we’ll be hearing a lot more about this, I’m sure. Dandy.

  5. Angie says:

    I’m not surprised this has happened. I follow her on social media and her usage of her aunts likeness and quotes for every aspect of her brand was notable and a little cringeworthy.

    But edited to add – it is nowhere NEAR even close what the Trumps have done. But that’s also not the ethical standard we want to hold ourselves to.

    • mellie says:

      I agree, I don’t even want these good people to be in the same conversation as the Trump grifters. It’s just better to come up with her own products and leave her aunt out of it all.

  6. Nina Simone says:

    I mentioned this on the thread about Ella. Meena should not be capitalizing on her aunt’s election in any way. I had to unfollow her cos it was so blatant. It is a grift. It’s not as egregious as the Trumps but call a spade a spade.

    I’m also really uncomfortable with how politicians are celebrified (I just made this word up) and by extension their families- a lot of it has to do with social media. And this goes for both sides of the aisle. Elected officials are public servants. Period. It reminds me of this Andrew CUOMO debacle. I was one of the people that remembered his ways pre pandemic (even saw how he waited too long to shutdown NYC) but people deified him. We were starved for leadership which I get, but now people like my mom refuse to believe the cover up with the nursing homes.

    • sa says:

      “I’m also really uncomfortable with how politicians are celebrified (I just made this word up) and by extension their families-”

      I agree. It’s part of why I’m always so uncomfortable when people talk about being “a fan” of a politician. I support certain politicians over others, but I’m not a fan. My loyalty isn’t to any politician, but to the issues that are important to me.

  7. Darla says:

    It doesn’t have to be as bad as the Trumps. I doubt anything ever will be that bad. Why do you think Graham threatened to impeach Harris and not Biden? They are going to Hillary Kamala, and they don’t need much to do it with. I believe this is a really bad look and Kamala should have shut her niece down long ago. She’ll live to regret it, but far more importantly, so will we.

    • Rapunzel says:

      They’re gonna try to Hillary Kamala, but people are getting wise to the RWNJ tactics. Notice the Hunter Biden shit didn’t stick. Neither did the blatant attempt at Birtherism 2.0, with Oakland born Kamala. A lot will depend on Kamala’s opponent, but I’m not too worried. Graham is just parroting Trump.

      Oh and Hillary still won the popular vote. Just a reminder of how the antiquated EC system killed Hillary more than anything else.

    • Heylee says:

      This. The VP’s family seems tight, so I hope that Meena respects the boundaries that Vice President Harris puts forth. Legal, ethical, and influencer related.

    • ennie says:

      The Kamala thing, to me is obvious that they want to try to cut her wings so she is not able to run for president or succeed Biden in any form. They’ll want to force a Republican in next.

    • Hello mar says:

      Kamala isn’t great at separating family from her work. When her campaign was suspended, there was a lot of talk about her campaign manager and her sister butting heads…Why was her sister involved in that capacity where it conflicted with the professional running her campaign? Nothing against Kamala but she needs to set boundaries now

  8. Sofia says:

    It’s nowhere near as bad as the Trumps but I can understand Kamala and her team’s worries. They want to distance themselves from the Trumps as much as possible so even one whiff of trading on connections is going to cause alarm bells to ring.

  9. Goldie says:

    It’s not a great look, but I think she had already removed the items with VP Harris’s likeness *before* the press started reporting about a conflict of interest. So it kind of seems like people are making a mountain out of a molehill.
    Still, she should be careful to not give them any more ammo.

  10. Tiff says:

    Meena’s a lawyer too so I’m sure she’s aware of the line and how to walk it.

  11. Kalana says:

    Meena has so much going for her yet she’s putting all her energy in riding her aunt’s coattails and I don’t get it. They’re just overpriced t-shirts.

    • Pusspants says:

      You just said exactly what I was thinking. Why is this what she’s doing to make money? Why not be a lawyer? Or if you prefer to write kids books, write one that isn’t specifically about your aunt. Even though she isn’t as bad as the trumps, this is still sad and pathetic.

      • Kalana says:

        I don’t thinks it’s so far to be called pathetic but there needs to be more substance. She could be doing something that actually helps people or furthers the actual sentiments behind the slogans instead of just marketing them to people. Like what does Meena actually care about and what work is she doing to show that.

        Just being on the sidelines selling shirts seems more like profiting off of other people’s work and Meena is clearly capable of much more than that.

        I think it will all settle down though. There’s no actual scandal here.

      • idk says:

        Yeah. I like Kamala a lot, but Meena gives strong thirsty/grifty vibes and I wish she’d stop. It’s embarrassing. I don’t know how she herself isn’t embarrassed by it?

        This obviously isn’t a real scandal, especially when you look at the Trump crime family, but it’s weird and cringey, and I’d generally like to see less of Meena attaching herself to the administration. Nobody voted for her.

      • Kate says:

        As a lawyer myself, I can give you an extremely long list of reasons why she might not want to be a lawyer anymore!

    • Leskat says:

      If she’s a lawyer she should know much better already. I checked her IG and she seems kinda thirsty? While it’s not Trump level egregious, she needs to stop any whisper of impropriety ASAP to make sure no mud at all can be thrown against them.

    • GirlMonday says:

      You don’t know her. You don’t know that she is putting “all” her energy toward anything. Kamala is an attorney, Meena is an attorney, and neither of them need the money, so calm down on the projecting.

  12. MsIam says:

    My goodness, the hypocrisy of the right knows no bounds. Sure, go after Kamala’s niece for selling sweatshirts and mugs but look the other way at all of the Trump shenanigans. I’m sure Lindsey Graham is frothing at the mouth to call for an investigation.

  13. Nic919 says:

    Even though the emoluments clause has no actual meaning anymore since none of the grifter dumps have been penalized for their egregious grifting, it will still be used as a cudgel against anyone linked to the Biden or Harris camp because the rules are always enforced for women and especially women of colour. And since Harris wants to run for president, she needs to have no scandals attached and her niece is crossing the edge with some of the products. It will be used, as was anything against Hillary, and the right wing media are evil and they are liars, so it is best to give them as little as possible.

  14. whateveryousay says:

    She needs to just follow the rules/guidance and be done with it. If she doesn’t want to, that says more about her than anything.

    But so far not seeing anything on her twitter that shows her aunt’s likeness in connection with her book. Was this done somewhere else?

  15. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    I don’t get it. It’s not like VP Harris is endorsing or enabling it, unlike what happened in the Trump administration. It’s apples and oranges. This is more like trying to hold Meghan Markle responsible for her dad or sister.

  16. Valiantly Varnished says:

    I honestly DGAF. She’s a private citizen. She doesn’t collect a salary from tax payer dollars. She has been selling merch for literally years. It isn’t a new thing. And frankly I’m sick of Dems being held to higher standards than Repubs who were cool with Trump’s son-in-law and daughter collecting whole a$$ salaries. They even have secret service detail. STILL.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      This is kind of where I am at with it. She isn’t an employee of the gov’t, which makes it completely different from Jared and Ivanka, who were administration employees.

  17. Steph says:

    She’s been an influencer. Long before Madam Vice President even ran. I think what she is doing fine. Morally. I don’t know about the legal implications.

  18. Anilehcim says:

    I follow Meena on social media and I like her, but she’s overdone it big time. I’m not surprised that this happened. It got a little cringeworthy how often she was using her aunt’s name or image to sell something or promote herself.

    Also, this may be unpopular but I think it’s a fair criticism: Meena’s husband wearing sneakers that cost anywhere from $8,000 to almost $11,000 to an inauguration during a pandemic that has left people unemployed and unable to feed their kids was a poor choice. Like by all means, flex because why else would anybody buy those… but that was not the time or place for it. A lot of people voted for Biden and Harris because they have hope they can fix this country when our people are really hurting in numerous ways. Flex another time.

    • Anne Call says:

      Probably a lot of the designer coats that women were wearing were in this price range. I don’t think anyone would have even known about his shoes except for the fact they were caught on camera behind one of the speakers (he was climbing up the stairs with one of their daughters). It’s fine and didn’t the article say that her book proceeds were going to charity?

    • Lo says:

      I mean I get what you’re saying but it was the inauguration. Should VP Harris have been wearing Ann Taylor? Joe Biden in Men’s Warehouse? You invite people to a fancy, formal event and they’re going to wear fancy stuff. I guess I’m also over the expected performative poverty when it comes to democrats.

      You can make money and be a democrat. And when you have money, you’re likely going to spend some of it on nice clothes and real estate. That doesn’t negate the fact that you want universal healthcare and tax increases on the wealthy. You know?

      • Anilehcim says:

        PERFORMATIVE POVERTY has nothing to do with anything I mentioned. You feeling the need to go there and bring that up as if the only alternative to wearing a $10,000 pair of sneakers is a wholesale warehouse is your own take on things and it’s a reach.

        Nothing that you mentioned is the same thing as a $10,000 pair of sneakers that both Meena and her husband repeatedly retweeted images and videos of but go off.

  19. The Recluse says:

    There’s always that one relative: Meena Harris needs to chill for as long as her Aunt is VP and hopefully POTUS down the line, and the same goes for that lawyer brother of Biden.

  20. CH says:

    The Jordans were $2000 when they originally dropped. The resale has obviously gone up. People collect shoes like they collect bags, I guess. This is just a FYI, not commenting on the optics about whether they should have been worn or not.

  21. Stacy Dresden says:

    Tacky but I just don’t see the ethical issue at play. Kamala isn’t benefitting. DNC and Fed govt isn’t a customer. Why is this being equated with the insane nepotism of the Trumps?

  22. AndaPanda says:

    The Trump family is sooo much worse it’s not even funny. I thought after 4 years of Trump Republicans would have a leg to stand on because they will be hypocritical in almost every criticism since Trump was so horrible but I don’t know how I could have been so naive.

    Anyway, the nepotism bothers me a bit, but we have that in every industry. She and I actually have a lot of mutual friends since we went to school together and worked together at some point so I have watched the progression of the “brand”. She’s been doing this for a while but there is just a bigger spotlight now.