Sarah Huckabee Sanders coverage begins at 1:30 mark above
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s affirmation of being booted from a Virginia restaurant may be an ethics violation because it was confirmed from an official government Twitter account.
That’s the opinion voiced by Walter Shaub, a former federal ethics chief who worked under Barack Obama and Donald Trump. His comment has been picked up by others, with one Democrat House member calling for an ethics investigation on the tweet.
Sanders and her family were attempting to dine at the Red Hen in Lexington, VA on Friday. They were asked to leave by the owner, and Sanders later confirmed the incident, saying she left quietly and that the request to leave was blamed on her affiliation with President Donald Trump.
“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington [Virginia] to leave because I work for POTUS and I politely left,” she 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.”
The ejection sparked a flurry of activity online along the partisan divide. The Red Hen’s web site was taken offline by the demand, and the restaurant’s Yelp and Google reviews had to be washed of negative comments as supporters and detractors of Sanders weighed in.
Shaub, who has been a fierce critic of the administration, said in his own tweet that “Sanders used her official govt account to condemn a private business for personal reasons … she can lob attacks on her own time but not using her official position.”
Later, on CNN’s State of the Union, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) called upon the Office of Government Ethics to investigate Sanders for using her official White House Twitter account to confirm the incident.
The owner of the Red Hen has also weighed in on her reasoning in asking Sanders to leave.
“I was babbling a little,” Stephanie Wilkinson said. “But I got my point across in a polite and direct fashion. I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty and compassion and cooperation. I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave.’”
Sanders, Wilkinson said, replied: “That’s fine. I’ll go.” Others at her table followed. “They offered to pay. I said, ‘No. It’s on the house.’”
The owner also said, “I would have done the same thing again. We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”
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. https://t.co/Fj6OfBAdew
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) June 23, 2018