When you're talking about digital information, the line between using public resources for official and unofficial purposes can get awfully blurry. A note out today from the Washington Legislative Ethics Board:
If you have a personal smart hone, tablet, iPad or similar device commoni referred to as a PDA, and you use your PDA to connect both to the legislative e-mail system and non-legislative e-mail, please pay attention to this message.
Recently, some legislators have inadvertently sent carnpaignrelated or personal messages from their PDA, only to learn later that the message was sent from their “leg.Wa.gov” address. Use of the legislative network to assist a campaign, to support or oppose a ballot measure, or for most non-legislative purposes is a violation ofthe Ethics in Public Service Act. How do you avoid this? in this situation you must pay careful attention to which e-mail address mail is being sent from and you must use a campaign or personal e-mail address for campaign-related business. To be safe, you should probably set the campaign or personal e-mail account, not the legislative account, as the default or account for sending of e-mail. That Will help avoid inadvertent use of the legislative e-mail address and servers'.
The Legislative Service Center (LSC 360.786.7000) will assist legislators with setting up legislative on a PDA and establishing appropriate default settings, but it is each individual’s responsibility to not use legislative facilities for campaign or inappropriate personal purposes.
In addition, if you are using a PDA that was purchased with public resources, it is treated the same as your legislative computer, laptop, phone, etc. - it is a violation ofthe Ethics Act to use any public resource for political campaigns.
The use of the internet as a communications medium can have unintended consequences. Whether through a YouTube video, a tweet on Twitter, or a Facebook posting, such communications can reach audiences While posted and also have a potentially unlimited life. Literally anyone in the World With access to the Internet can access such communications long after the time they were intended to be available.
In a recent case, a legislator asked for his YouTube video to be removed upon learning there Were ethical concerns about his use of public resources in the production of the video. However, materials on the Internet are generally cached and, are diflicult if not impossible to eliminate completely. Although the video in question should never have involved the use ofpublic resources in the Hrst place, its placement on YouTube prolonged the life of the Clear, visual representation ofthe use of public resources for campaign purposes and may, far into the future, reHect upon the ethics of the Legislature as a whole.