- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 24, 2018

A former Obama administration official has accused White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders of breaking ethics rules by confirming reports that she was kicked out of a Lexington, Virginia, restaurant by its anti-Trump owner.

Walter Shaub, who served as director of the Office of Government Ethics under President Obama before being replaced last year by President Trump, said Saturday that Mrs. Sanders violated the Code of Federal Regulations by using her official Twitter account to respond to the flurry of media coverage.

“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). It’s the same as if an ATF agent pulled out his badge when a restaurant tried to throw him/her out,” tweeted Mr. Shaub.

The referenced section prohibits government employees from using their public office for private gain by “inducement or coercion of benefits.”

“An employee shall not use or permit the use of his Government position or title or any authority associated with his public office in a manner that is intended to coerce or induce another person, including a subordinate, to provide any benefit, financial or otherwise, to himself or to friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity,” says the section, as per the Legal Information Institute website.

Critics of Mrs. Sanders said she hurt the restaurant’s business by touching off a deluge of Yelp reviews, although the comments were both negative and positive, while her backers said she had little choice but to respond to what had become a national story.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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