As the pop-phenomenon that is the ALS ice bucket challenge winds down towards the end of its 15 minutes of fame comes word the US State Department is banning the practice.
Ice Bucket Challenge promotion violates federal ethics rules
In an unclassified cable to diplomats across the world, lawyers at the State Department said the promotion violates federal ethics rules barring officials from using public office for private gain “no matter how worthy the cause,” according to press reports.
The cable noted that disease prevention are some of the agency’s highest priorities – and the State Department funds global programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, polio and even the recent Ebola outbreak. It commended the ALS Association on its viral success of the marketing campaign, which seeks to raise money and find a cure for “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Background on the Ice Bucket Challenge
As previously reported in ValueWalk, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” started on July 15 with a Florida golfer named Charles Kennedy. Although the challenge was not officially linked to any particular charity at that point, Kennedy chose to donate his money to ALS research because his cousin suffered from the disease.
The challenge took a life of its own, as popular celebrities, athletes and business executives rushed to the spotlight to take the challenge. Recently former US President George W. Bush took the challenge and then nominated former president Bill Clinton to do the same.
Ice Bucket Challenge: Self promotion being questioned
While the challenge has raised money and awareness for a good cause, it is being questioned as a method of self promotion for those involved.
“Just about every local television personality, it seems, as done it,” noted an article on the Chicago CBS affiliate’s web site. “And it raises a legitimate question, is this more about attention-seeking than actual charity? In many of the videos, participants don’t even mention ALS or the drive to raise the dollars.”
While the cause is worthwhile, those whose life has been impacted by ALS are asking questions.
“I can’t help but feel this challenge could have done so much more good if it were structured differently,” Jacob Davidson, whose father died from ALS, wrote in Time.
“There goes CNBC’s ratings,” ZeroHedge quipped, referring to the State Department not allowing its employees to participate in the program. The business television network that has aired endless videos of its on-air personalities and various business leaders taking the challenge.