The head of the federal government’s ethics office offered a refresher Friday night on rules that bar executive branch employees from endorsing companies – a day after President-elect Donald Trump encouraged his Twitter followers to “Buy L.L. Bean.”

The “Director’s Note” from Walter Shaub, who heads the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, is a reminder to executive branch workers that they are barred from using public office for private gain for themselves or friends and relatives; can’t endorse products, services or companies; can’t engage in financial transactions using non-public information; and must not misuse government property or official time.

Shaub, who has clashed with Trump over his plans for stepping away from his real estate development company – but stopping short of selling his interests in it – while president, didn’t mention Trump or the Bean tweet directly in Friday’s post on the ethics office’s website.

“One definition of corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain,” Shaub wrote in his note, going on to list the prohibitions.

Linda Bean, granddaughter of L.L. Bean and one of 10 directors of the Freeport retailer, gave money last year to a pro-Trump political action committee that produced yard signs and radio and television ads in support of Trump. Federal election officials said her donation exceeded the $5,000 limit on such contributions and the committee has since filed papers to reorganize as a “super PAC” that isn’t subject to those limits.

Linda Bean was on “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning, complaining that she and L.L. Bean were being “bullied” by activists who have urged a boycott of the company because of her support of Trump.

The company has sought to distance itself from the controversy, with executives saying that Bean itself doesn’t endorse candidates or make political contributions, although executives and other board members have done so.

About an hour after Linda Bean’s television appearance, Trump weighed in with a tweet: “Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean. @LBPerfectMaine”

The LBPerfectMaine reference is to Linda Bean’s own company, which offers vacation rentals in Maine, tours and Maine-oriented gifts and prints. She also runs a small chain of restaurants specializing in lobster rolls.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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