The Two-Way
2:54 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

U.S. Diplomatic Cable Puts Chill On ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 3:30 pm

Don't expect Secretary of State John Kerry to accept the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" anytime soon: Lawyers at the State Department have banned high-profile U.S. diplomats from participating in the fundraising phenomenon that has swept social media in recent weeks.

In an unclassified cable issued earlier this week, the department lauded the unique effort to raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, but said it violates internal policy.

"There are firmly established rules preventing the use of public office, such as our Ambassadors, for private gain, no matter how worthy the cause. Thus, high-ranking State Department officials are unfortunately unable to participate in the ice bucket challenge," the cable sent to all U.S. diplomatic missions reads. "We sincerely wish the ALS Association continued success in its ice bucket campaign, and in its fight against Lou Gehrig's disease."

The ice bucket challenge has raised nearly $42 million and attracted such notable participants as former President George W. Bush, director Steven Spielberg, Lady Gaga and Bill Gates.

The cable notes that choosing worthy charities is a difficult personal decision that is made "even more 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."

The Associated Press notes: "By the time the cable was sent at least one high-ranking diplomat, Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, had already participated and had challenged U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power to douse herself with ice water for the cause. But by then, Power and the other ambassadors got the memo."

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