Meena Harris, Vice President Kamala Harris’ social media influencer niece, reportedly has White House lawyers worried.
Less than a week before her aunt was sworn in, Meena Harris, 36, appeared on NBC’s “Today” show. In an interview conducted by Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, Meena mentioned her latest children’s book, “Ambitious Girl,” and “wore a pink sweatshirt emblazoned with the word ‘Ambitious’ in large type, plugging a popular item in her Phenomenal brand clothing line,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
“A current White House official who watched the segment was taken aback. Meena, who was an unpaid campaign representative, would not have been given the prominent platform — or appearances on ‘The View’ and spreads in glossy magazines — if she weren’t the vice president’s niece. She has used that publicity to promote her lifestyle brand, which has over time capitalized on Kamala Harris’ name, likeness, life history, and political slogans to produce clothing, videos, bestselling children’s books, and designer headphones,” the Times reported.
Meena Harris is a Harvard-trained lawyer who started a company four years ago that sells “socially conscious T-shirts and sweatshirts, often worn by celebrities and posted on her Instagram, TikTok and other social media accounts alongside selfies she takes with her aunt,” said the paper. And she has 800,000 followers on Instagram, giving her a large platform in the age of the influencer.
“Some things can’t be undone,” a White House official told the 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.”
After Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election, White House lawyers told the Meena Harris she couldn’t sell products that used her aunt’s likeness, a White House official reportedly told the Times.
“Meena would not say whether she continues to collect royalties from her first book, which features her aunt’s name and image on the cover. A White House official said the book, along with ‘Vice President Aunty’ sweatshirts, Harris-themed swimsuits, and other products previously sold, were not allowed under the current rules.”
In a statement to the Times via a public relations firm, Meena Harris defended her actions.
“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 told the paper. “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.”
Last week, Meena Harris caused a bit of an issue for the Biden administration when it comes to India after she “waded into India’s internal politics surrounding protests sparked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent agricultural reforms,” Politico reported. “Her series of posts have helped provoke a backlash from the Indian government and some of its supporters, adding an unexpected wrinkle to India-U.S. relations just as Biden is seeking to engage with the country’s leaders.”