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Roving Periscope: Don’t misuse V-P’s name, WH warns niece Meena

Roving Periscope: Don’t misuse V-P’s name, WH warns niece Meena

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Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: Some people are often found misusing their celebrity relatives’ names directly or indirectly to influence others and boost their own status in society. Meena Harris, the controversial niece of the new US Vice-President Kamala Harris, is one of them.

Finding that she has been trying to punch above her weight, the White House has warned Meena from misusing her aunt’s name, according to media reports.

Early this month, Meena tried to seek attention by jumping into the Indian farmers’ agitation at a time Washington and New Delhi are busy resetting and strengthening bilateral relations. Meena seems to be encashing her aunt Kamala’s elevation as America’s 49th Vice-President, without realizing how her uncalled for support to Indian farmers’ agitation could impact Indo-American relations.

US media has reported that, within a month of Kamala taking oath as the Vice-President on January 20, Meena began throwing her weight around, forcing the White House to warn her as it could damage America’s global interests and relationships.

The New York Post wrote on Saturday thus: “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.”

“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 Meena whose ventures have reportedly become a sensitive issue in the newly formed Biden-Harris White House.

Meena is a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur who boasts more than 800,000 followers on Instagram, where her posts range from political to personal.

The niece Harris has authored children’s books, including one titled Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, and also 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.

Meena 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 Meena that she could not produce any products that used the Vice-President’s name or likeness, a White House official reportedly told The LA Times.

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 January 20 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, Meena Harris, however, 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.”

 

 

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