State Department Begs Politicians To Stop The Ice Bucket Challenge Thing Already

In the last few weeks, countless celebrities and public figures have taken the Ice Bucket Challenge — from Robert Pattinson to Anna Wintour, from Mark Zuckerberg to George W. Bush. Everybody's doing it. Except, from now on, the fine folks at the U.S. State Department. That's because the State Department banned the Ice Bucket Challenge for their officials, in a memo circulated Tuesday.

As Quartz details, the issue seems to be the inner workings of governmental ethics policies, particularly as they relate to charitable donations. And it isn't just that the State Department that could end up in hot water thanks to ice water; there are similar rules binding the actions of elected representatives, though not quite as strident.

In the case of the State Department, officials are forbidden from taking part in anything that "uses public office for private gain." From the memo:

There are firmly established rules preventing the use of public office, such as our ambassadors, for private gain, no matter how worthy a cause. 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.

While the memo bends over backwards to make it clear that the State Department supports the ALS awareness campaign, and shares in the desire to see the neurodegenerative disease thwarted, they can't take part in it.

In the case of the elected officeholders who've taken part so far — as Quartz points out, a number of House Representatives, including Texas' Pete Sessions, have followed suit — the rules aren't quite as prohibitive, provided everything's being done properly. Specifically, members of the House are forbidden from using "official resources" to take the challenge, and "resources" also applies to their staffers.

That's probably the reason that a number of officials have been deleting and pulling down the records of their completed challenges, civil rights hero and Democratic Rep. John Lewis, for example. Sessions' example is still up, however, and it does raise some questions — who's that pouring the water? Is that a staffer!? Where'd that bucket come from? Is that a Pete Sessions bucket, or a taxpayer bucket?

Pete Sessions for Congress on YouTube

But, really, they probably don't have to worry. It seems like the longest of long shots that anything bad would ever come to these officials, elected or otherwise, for taking the plunge, considering its massive popularity and the immense importance of the cause. And, obviously, you don't have to dump the water just because you're challenged. You can make an actual monetary donation instead! Which is exactly how President Obama got off the hook, incidentally.

Images: ALS - AL/YouTube