Congressional Staffer Resigns After Disparaging Comments About Obama Girls

A Hill communications director calls it quits over controversial Facebook post.

ByABC News
December 1, 2014, 10:07 AM

— -- A Congressional communications director resigned today after making disparaging comments about Sasha and Malia Obama on Facebook, ABC News has learned.

Elizabeth Lauten, the communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., last week criticized the girls' demeanor during the annual White House turkey pardoning ceremony, writing on Facebook: "Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class.

"At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department. Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events."

Lauten was widely criticized across social media for her comments. She then deleted her original post and wrote an apology on Facebook that she sent to ABC News.

"After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were," Lauten wrote. "I'd like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have)from this experience."

In a phone call, Lauten choked through tears as she told ABC News that she had resigned Monday morning. She refused to discuss the circumstances surrounding her resignation, instead pointing to her Facebook apology as her comment on the incident.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he was “taken aback” by Lauten’s criticism of the president’s daughters, adding that all public and political figures must “choose our words wisely.”

“I was taken aback that there was a political operative on Capitol Hill who took the occasion of the Thanksgiving event to criticize the first family,” Earnest said, marking the first official comment from the White House on the incident.

Asked whether the White House believes in principle that the first daughters should be “off limits,” Earnest said, “A principle like that is pretty much common sense.”

“Me and all the people in this room have ability to speak publicly ... and we choose our words wisely,” he said. The incident is “a reminder of how important that is.”

Earnest said Lauten’s Facebook apology “was the appropriate thing to do” although he didn’t comment directly on her resignation.

ABC News' Geetika Rudra contributed to this report.