Government Law

State Department tells ambassadors not to participate in 'ice bucket' fundraising for ALS group


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Lawyers for the U.S. Department of State have banned American diplomats from participating in a high-profile “ice bucket” fundraising effort for the ALS Association that has brought in more than $41 million in less than a month.

Raising funds to benefit victims of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a worthy cause. However, ethics issues are implicated when ambassadors and high-profile foreign service officers use their positions for private gain, even for charitable purposes, the department explained in a Tuesday cable to its global missions that was obtained by the Associated Press.

Lawyers for the department also said choosing which charities to support raises questions about preferential treatment.

At least one ambassador participated in the ALS Association campaign before the cable was sent.

Meanwhile, similar bans were imposed on soldiers and lawmakers, respectively, by the Pentagon and the U.S. House of Representatives, the Washington Post reports.

Related coverage:

CBS News: “Ice bucket challenge: More than just ‘hashtag activism’?”

New York Times: “‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ Donations for A.L.S. Research Top $41 Million”

Updated Aug. 22 to report the amount of money raised.

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