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Did Sarah Sanders violate federal ethics with her viral tweet? Dem lawmaker pushes investigation

The former ethics chief in the Obama administration says White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders broke federal ethics rules with her viral tweet on Saturday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A former Obama administration official accuses White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders of violating federal ethics regulations when she confirmed via Twitter that she had been kicked out of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.

Now, one Democratic lawmaker is calling for an investigation into the alleged violation.

What are the details?

Sanders ignited a firestorm on Saturday when she tweeted about being booted from the Red Hen. Her tweet quickly went viral.

But as many noticed, Sanders tweeted about the incident from her government account, @PressSec, instead of her personal account, @SarahHuckabee.

And according to Walter Shaub, who served as director of the Office of Government Ethics in the Obama administration, this key distinction proves Sanders clearly violated federal ethics regulations.

Shaub accused Sanders of using her public account to apply pressure on the restaurant by instigating public outrage.

The section of federal regulation that Shaub accuses Sanders of violating deals with the "use of public office for private gain."

It reads:

An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member, and persons with whom the employee has or seeks employment or business relations. The specific prohibitions set forth in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section apply this general standard, but are not intended to be exclusive or to limit the application of this section.

What about an investigation?

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) explained on CNN's "State of the Union" she believes Sanders needs to be investigated over the tweet.

"With regard to Sarah, she used her government account for taking on this private restaurant, a private business. I personally think she should be referred to the Office of Government Ethics," Lee said.

"You think that is unethical?" CNN host Jake Tapper followed up.

"Yeah, if you use a government account to attack a private business on personal time, that’s not right," Lee explained.

One last thing…
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