The Washington Post

Diplomats, military, House members are barred from #IceBucketChallenge

(This post has been updated.)

The State Department, the Pentagon and the U.S. House informed their diplomats, soldiers and lawmakers respectively this week that they may not participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS research.

The Associated Press obtained a cable sent to embassies around the world alerting them that accepting the challenge was against ethics rules, which do not allow government officials to use their taxpayer-funded office for private gain “no matter how worthy a cause.”

The AP tweeted a copy of the cable here:

.@StateDept bars US diplomats from taking ALS ice bucket challenge” (Photo of cable below)

— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) August 21, 2014

We know one ambassador who already took the challenge — Kristie Kenney, the U.S. ambassador to Thailand. But she didn’t specifically say she was supporting ALS, and she urged people to make a donation to any charity, so that may be within the rules:

The Department of Defense’s Office of General Counsel has also it appears put the kibosh on military officials taking the challenge. The Military Times reports that Pentagon service members and employees “cannot have ice dumped on them while in uniform — including civilian uniforms.”

House members also found out this week that they cannot take part in any public icing. Politico reported Tuesday that an e-mail was sent from the House Administration Committee saying: “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.”

We’ve reached out to the Senate to see if the same rules apply to the senators.

Several members of Congress had to then delete tweets that showed them accepting the challenge. Sunlight Foundation’s Politwoops site, which archives deleted tweets, has many examples:

(Credit: Sunlight Foundation)
(Credit: Sunlight Foundation)
Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Republicans debate Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is on Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Heading into the next debate...
Donald Trump returns to the Republican presidential debate stage Saturday night. Marco Rubio arrives as a sudden star, but fending off ferocious attacks from his rivals. Still glowing from his Iowa victory, Ted Cruz is trying to consolidate conservative support, while Ben Carson is struggling to avoid being typecast as the dead man walking.
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
56% 36%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 6: GOP debate

on ABC News, in Manchester, N.H.

Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.