Dear Leader Boehner:
Thank you for your letter on the recommendations by Franking Chair Capuano to the Committee on House Administration regarding posting web video external to the House.gov domain. We share the goal of modernizing the antiquated franking regulations to address the rapidly changing realities of communications in the internet age. Like many other Members, I have a blog, use YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Digg, and other new media to communicate with constituents, and I believe they are vital tools toward increasing transparency and accountability.
Mr. Capuano's initial recommendations are an effort to establish standards that permit Members to publish web videos on external web sites, a broadening of the rules that currently prohibit posting videos on external sites. I can assure you that it is not the intention, nor will it be the result, of the final regulations to stifle, censor, or deprive Members of communicating effectively and in real-time with their constituents. I am confident that the Committee on House Administration will develop these final rules on a bipartisan basis, recognizing that we have a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used for political or commercial purposes.
While I am delighted to see the attention of internet users and citizens toward our much needed movement to update the franking regulations, there has been a large amount of misinformation regarding these efforts. We all have a responsibility to ensure that Members and the public understand the need to prevent the misuse of public funds, while at the same time ensuring access to emerging online means of communication.
Unfortunately, inaccurate rumors have been circulated asserting that the suggested standards allowing for web video outside of the House.gov domain would affect Member blogging or use of sites such as Twitter. Dissemination of this false information does a disservice to the vital dialogue on using technology to increase citizen involvement, education, and transparency in the House.
Thank you again for your letter and your commitment to work on a bipartisan basis to develop standards that are agreeable to both Parties and most importantly, serve the public interest.
Speaker of the House
And finally, on a lighter note, Scott Floyd imagines what a future Senate Tweet debate might look like:
Senator 1: @Senator2 We've got to consider the fact that schools are only able to handle so many unfunded mandates. At some point funding is required.
Senator 2: @Senator1 They've enough money already. Why give more when they just waste it? They buy all the best software, computers, etc. To what rslt?
Senator 1: @Senator2 You mean like the equipment in your office EACH of your staff members use EVERY day? Like the iPhone you are Twittering from?...
Senator 1: @Senator2 All of which is paid for by PUBLIC tax dollars with staff taught in PUBLIC schools to do the work for the PUBLIC?
Senator 3: @Senator2 Burn!
Senator 2: @Senator3 Shut-up! You're in my party. I'm blocking you!