Policy/Biz

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Gets Political, As Videos Violate House Ethics Manual

Some Politicians Banned From ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
While some politicians are banned from uploading ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos, former president George W. Bush takes the ice bucket. Photo courtesy of Youtube Screenshot, ALS

The Committee on House Administration has announced to its members that posting videos of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on lawmakers’ accounts violates the House rules. The viral charity campaign involves participants dumping buckets of ice water on their heads and nominating friends and family members to do the same, or else donate $100 to an ALS foundation.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that attacks the nerve cells’ ability to communicate between the brain and muscles. Every year 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS, and 90 percent die within five years of diagnosis. The three-week old viral awareness campaign has raised $22.9 million since July 29, compared to the $1.9 million during the same time period last year, along with a slew of celebrities, famous athletes, and politician participants spreading the campaign like wildfire.

“No doubt, this is for an admirable cause. There is a prohibition in the Members Handbook and in the Ethics Manual on the use of official resources for the promotion or benefit of any private charitable cause,” an email from a panel subcommittee warned. The ALS Association is not a government organization; however, the nonprofit organization is the leader in global research and provides assistance and support through its 38 chapters nationwide.

The Franking Commission, which is a committee within the House Administration, warned members that lawmakers can only post their ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos on personal or campaign accounts but cannot upload onto their professional accounts. The Committee on House Administration oversees federal elections and the everyday operations of the House of Representatives. The Committees’ Congressional handbook has been used as a way to govern how, why, and where they spend their funds since 1999 in addition to the Ethics in Government Act.

However, that doesn’t mean the Obama administration is afraid to participate. “His contribution to this effort will be monetary,” the White House said of Obama on Aug. 13. He, along with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie participated and recognized the phenomenon of viral funding efforts, and once Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, nominated former president George W. Bush, he accepted within the time constraint and participated this morning.

“To you all that challenged me, I do not think it’s presidential for me to be splashed with ice water,” Bush said right before his wife Laura dumped a bucketful of ice water onto his head on Wednesday morning. “Now it’s my privilege to challenge my friend Bill Clinton to the ALS challenge. Yesterday was Bill’s birthday and my gift to Bill is a bucket of cold water.”

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