Trumplandia

Sarah Sanders using her Twitter platform to shame a private business is a serious ethical volation

According to a post to her Twitter account this Saturday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders revealed that she was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant because she works for President Trump.

In the tweet, Sanders revealed the name and location of the restaurant.

“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. 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,” she tweeted.

Speaking to The Washington Post, the owner of the Red Hen, Stephanie Wilkinson, explained why she turned away Sanders and other members of her family.

“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson told the Post. “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.”

In the wake of the incident, a debate as to whether or not the owner’s actions were justified blew up on social media. But according to the former Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub, Sanders’ usage of her official Twitter account to air her personal grievances against a private business is a “clear violation” of ethics rules.

“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 in response to Sanders. “It’s the same as if an ATF agent pulled out his badge when a restaurant tried to throw him/her out.”

It’s not inconceivable that Sanders’ tweet, from her official Twitter account, could negatively affect the restaurant’s business while influencing the public’s opinion of the incident — all scenarios that could be interpreted as violations of the statute Shaub is referring to.

Snopes reporter Bethania Palma (full disclosure: she’s my sister) agrees.

“[Sanders] just used a government social media account, where she has 3 million followers, to call out a restaurant, which will now receive a stream of threats and harassment that may never end,” Palma says. “The administration has separated thousands of kids from parents and there is no accountability about the whereabouts of those kids from the administration, meaning, the kids for all intents and purposes were permanently taken from their parents for a misdemeanor.”

“She has spent the entirety of her tenure belittling journalists and lying to the public on the taxpayer dime.”

Featured image via YouTube

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