State Department Bans Diplomats From Ice Bucket Challenge

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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In a move forwarded by State Department lawyers, U.S. diplomats are now prohibited from taking part in the ice bucket challenge to avoid ethics violations, Politico reports.

The ice bucket challenge has recently skyrocketed to prominence over social media, which originally came about as a fundraiser for Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS. Numerous celebrities have taken part in the challenge, including former president George W. Bush, along with Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, and other noteworthy individuals like Martha Stewart. Others, like Vice President Joe Biden, decided to write a check, instead.

How the challenge works is participants dump a bucket of ice cold water over their heads and tag other individuals to continue the chain. So far, the ALS Association has raised over $40 million dollars.

A section of the cable, obtained by the Associated Press on Thursday, is devoted to describing the charity work in which the State Department is already involved, namely fighting HIV, Ebola and tuberculosis. And while the cable also goes on to congratulate the success of the ALS Association, State Department lawyers note that for American diplomats and other high-ranking foreign service officials, taking part in the challenge would be an ethics violation, as it constitutes using public office for private gain.

The cable was sent two days after U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, joined in on the challenge, forwarding it on to U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. But before Power was able to complete the challenge, the memo had reached her.

“It is…difficult when high-ranking State Department personnel with high-profile positions are asked to participate in charitable fund-raising, and concerns about preference and favoritism always arise,” said the State Department cable.

This rule holds regardless of whether the end-goal is charitable.

“Thus, high-ranking State Department officials are unfortunately unable to participate in the ice bucket challenge. We since wish the ALS Association continued success in its ice bucket campaign, and in its fight against Lou Gehrig’s disease,” the cable noted.

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