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Ex-White House ethics chief: Sarah Sanders tweet violates ethics laws

The former director of the Office of Government Ethics said on Saturday that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s decision to tweet about being kicked out of a Virginia restaurant violated ethics laws.

Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va., on Friday night, but confirmed the incident in a Saturday morning tweet.

“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for [President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE] and I politely left,” Sanders tweeted. “Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”

Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubEthics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting Interior 'propaganda' video and tweets may violate ethics laws, experts say Louisiana House candidate fundraises off opponent's tweet about wife's 'premonition' dream MORE, the federal government's former top ethics watchdog, tweeted that Sanders's response, which was made from her official White House account, was a clear violation of federal law.

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“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),” Shaub tweeted Saturday, referencing the law that states government employees cannot use public office for private gain.

“It’s the same as if [a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] agent pulled out his badge when a restaurant tried to throw him/her out,” he added.

The tweet also violated the endorsements ban, Shaub argued, since Sanders’s tweet was “an obvious corollary for discouraging patronage."

“She can lob attacks on her own time but not using her official position,” he added in another tweet.

Stephanie Wilkinson, the co-owner of the restaurant, said she asked Sanders and her family to leave because of previous comments she had made defending the Trump administration’s ban on transgender military members.

The restaurant employs several LGBT employees, some of whom voiced concerns over having to serve Sanders, Wilkinson told The Washington Post.

“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson added. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”

Wilkinson blasted the Trump administration as “inhumane and unethical.”

Shaub, who had previously clashed with Trump over the president's business interests, resigned last year, leaving office nearly six months before the end of his term.

He frequently criticizes the Trump administration and called on another Trump spokeswoman, White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayPence urges 'positive' agenda to counter Biden in first speech since leaving office Kellyanne Conway joins Ohio Senate candidate's campaign Mark Zuckerberg, meet Jean-Jacques Rousseau? MORE, to be fired for violating the Hatch Act.