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Bob RuchoAs noted in last week’s Weekly Briefing, hyperbole and dramatic overstatements have their place in politics.  That said,  it’s also true that those holding public office should possess some minimal connection to reality and basic human decency. And in these latter two categories, Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County has raised real questions about his fitness for public office with his public statement on Twitter yesterday that:

“Justice Robert’s pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets & terrorists combined.”

As Rabbi Judy Schindler of Charlotte’s Temple Beth El told the Charlotte Observer:

“The systematic murder of 11 million human beings, among them 6 million Jews … and acts of terrorists using explosives to indiscriminately decimate the lives of men, women and children can in no way be compared to legislation aimed at expanding health care accessibility and quality insurance for the poor. Comparing the two is deeply offensive.”

Of course, all who “tweet” have undoubtedly “said” things they’d like to take back. But good grief! State senators ought  to have enough common sense to think about their words before hitting the “Tweet” button. Rucho needs to do much more than “clarify” the intent of his statement; he needs to specifically and unequivocally apologize ASAP.

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The state announced today the opening of a new searchable archive of social media by and about government officials, according to WRAL:

The State Archives of North Carolina is going “social,” beginning the capture of Twitter tweets, Facebook posts and the like as made by and about public officials with the help of Durham startup venture ArchiveSocial.

A pilot project was unveiled Tuesday through which searchers at the archives can find what’s been said and posted about those in government, such as Gov. Bev Perdue, and – perhaps most importantly – what elected and appointed officials might say through their social media accounts.

The archive, which  is live, will hopefully ease a backlog of public records requests – and perhaps change the tweeting behavior of many?

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The worldwide explosion of social media like Facebook and Twitter in recent years gives rise to some interesting questions about what is and isn’t appropriate for politicians and other public servants who use these platforms while on the job.

On one level, it’s obviously no big deal. If House Speaker Thom Tillis sends out a tweet during a legislative day promoting some House policy initiative, it’s really no different than if his staff sends out a press release. Especially in light of the fact that Tillis’ (and Governor Perdue’s) tweets are almost certainly authored by staff, it really doesn’t raise any issues that I can see. In fact, kudos to them for at least attempting to inform the public.

But what about some other situations? What if Tillis or Perdue sends out a campaign-related announcement on their Twitter account on a workday?  That would seem to necessitate some care on their part so that we can be assured that public funds are not being used to compensate someone for such time.

And then there’s the situation in which officials and their staffers are sending out tweets or posting comments on Facebook or blogs that are mostly or completely unrelated to their jobs. For instance, during the legislative session, Read More