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Federal Ethics Agency Site Crashes on Day Trump Adviser Plugs Ivanka’s Duds

Counselor to President, Kellyanne Conway, prepares to appear on the Sunday morning show Meet The Press, from the north lawn at the White House, January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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Counselor to President, Kellyanne Conway, prepares to appear on the Sunday morning show Meet The Press, from the north lawn at the White House, January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.

It may be a sign of the Trump times.

The website of the Office of Government Ethics, or OGE — a federal agency whose job it is to help presidents and the executive branch avoid conflicts of interest — crashed Thursday because of "an extraordinary volume of contacts from citizens about recent events."

While the OGE didn't specify the "recent events" in the five tweets it posted on its Twitter feed, the computer crash came as President Donald Trump's trusted counselor was hit with criticism for plugging Ivanka Trump's clothing line on a television show.

The OGE tweeted that while it "works to prevent ethics violation," it doesn't have "investigative or enforcement authority.

Conway, who was immediately accused of breaking federal ethics rules, was "counseled on that subject," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, without offering any specifics.

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In the subsequent tweets, the OGE went on to outline what it does exactly, closing with the news that it is "actively following this agency-contact process."

The OGE was created as a result of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 following the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.

It became a fully independent agency a decade later, with 80 full-time workers. Its job is to run ethics programs in the 130 different agencies that comprise the executive branch.

In addition to running classes on conflicts of interest, it does things like run classes on how to deal with vendors, impart the rules on receiving gifts and deal with issues like nepotism and corruption.

The OGE, however, doesn't enforce the codes. It leaves that to the FBI and the Justice Department.

Trump has been accused of nepotism for giving his son-in-law a plum job in the administration and of using the presidency to boost profits at his various private businesses. Spicer has repeatedly denied the allegations.

And in December, after Trump tweeted that he was turning over the reins of his empire to concentrate on being president, the OGE congratulated him in a series of tweets that some deemed "snarky":

"We can't repeat enough how good this total divestiture will be. Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest. Good call!"