I just read that the EPA was recently called out for using a “social media campaign encouraging voters to weigh in on a controversial proposal [that] amounted to ‘covert propaganda’ and ‘grassroots lobbying’ that federal agencies cannot legally conduct, according to a total 26-page report released on Monday by Congress’s Government Accountability Office.” Huh? I am out of my depth of knowledge here and am calling on our own Ron Collins to help, but I am wondering what exactly this rule is and what it means. It seems to me that using social media to reach people is a good thing for an agency. It seems to me that any agency will have its bias and should probably try to limit that voice. Yet if I get the gist, the EPA or any agency is not allowed to urge folks to contact federal and state legislators. I say that because according to the Christian Science Monitor the social media activity had links to “links to educational information, as well as deadlines and how-to guides on submitting comments to the public record” but the EPA spokeswoman made it a point to say “At no point did EPA encourage the public to contact Congress or any state legislature.”
So if an agency shares details about rules, policy, and science that is OK but suggesting that people voice their views pro or con is a problem? To be clear an EPA official blogged and shared that he was a beer drinker and surfer and supported the rule because of pollution concerns and linked to Surfrider which advocates about water policy. I can see how that is an issue. My question is more about the possible rule against encouraging folks to act. I may be missing something here. I hope I am.