Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Even the President of the United States gets it Wrong with Twitter

The @BarackObama Twitter account that is run by a group called the Organization for Action posted this Twitter yesterday:

The only problem is, well, our President is violating Federal Code by engaging in his use of this Twitter account.

First, it will help you understand the issue if you read this recent article published last month in The Washington Post, Barack Obama makes clear that he is not @BarackObama, by Philip Bump.   Mr. Bump points out some key facts, one of which is that after Obama's tenure as President is over he might just very possibly use the @BarackObama account again as a private/personal account.  Secondly, Obama, as the Twitter profile states, has posted Tweets to the @BarackObama account.

Now, let's take a look at what law(s) the President "may" be in violation of and you can decide for yourself.

see link  This is a link to Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations section 2635.702 regarding the use of public office for private gain.

So, two things pop out at me.  One, according to 5 CFR section 2635.702 the President can not use his office for his own private gain.  Obama has been known to post Tweets to @BarackObama  (we know this because he signs them "-bo") and the @OFA account links to (see this nice official looking page linked to the account  It could be argued that the @OFA is really a shadow account for the President's use.

So, private gain in this instance refers to the fact that the President is utilizing the @BarackObama Twitter account to promote his own agenda (he can and should do this from his public @POTUS account).  With the use of the @BarackObama Twitter handle the President now has over 60 million followers that he can keep once his term is complete (assuming his current followers are still following him after the completion of his term).  This is not the case with the @POTUS Twitter handle.  That will continue to be used by future Presidents.

The second thing I noticed wrong with the @BarackObama account was the recent promotional trip to Hawaii.  5 CFR section 2635.702 points out that the President shouldn't be using his position to endorse any product, service, or enterprise.  

I think it is best that President Obama distance himself from the @OFA's use of his Twitter handle "@BarackObama."   Does the President need more than one official government mailing address, email account, or Twitter account?