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Ex-Ethics Chief: Sanders' Restaurant Tweet Broke Federal Rules

She shouldn't have used official account, he says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2018 5:40 AM CDT
Updated Jun 25, 2018 6:51 AM CDT
This Saturday, June 23, 2018 photo shows the Red Hen Restaurant in downtown Lexington, Va.   (AP Photo/Daniel Lin)
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(Newser) – Sarah Sanders shouldn't be using her official social media accounts to complain about restaurants, according to a former federal ethics chief. Walter Shaub—who served as director of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration and stepped down last year after publicly clashing with President Trump—says the White House press secretary broke ethics rules by using her official Twitter account to "condemn a private business for personal reasons," the Guardian reports. Sanders ignited controversy Saturday when she tweeted that the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va., refused to serve her Friday evening because she works for Trump. Owner Stephanie Wilkinson remained closed the night after Sanders' visit, and nearby shopkeeper Siobhan Deeds tells the News-Gazette it was because she received death threats.

"Sarah, I know you don’t care even a tiny little bit about the ethics rules, but using your official account for this is a clear violation of 5 CFR 2635.702(a)," tweeted Shaub. "It’s the same as if an ATF agent pulled out his badge when a restaurant tried to throw him/her out." Former White House lawyer Ian Bassin agreed with Shaub, saying Sanders' tweet would have been fine from a personal account, but not from her White House one, Slate reports. Sanders has also been accused of hypocrisy for complaining about her treatment while supporting the Supreme Court decision in favor of an anti-gay baker. The Washington Post editorial board argues that Sanders and other members of the Trump administration should be allowed to eat in peace, noting that the distinction between work and private time has become blurred. "Down that road lies a world in which only the most zealous sign up for public service," they write. (Read more Sarah Huckabee Sanders stories.)

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