A Congressional watchdog group called LegiStorm has announced a sweeping new project aimed at government transparency. But part of that project has staffers on Capitol Hill crying foul because it lists all their private Twitter accounts.
On April 3, LegiStorm announced its new StormFeed tool saying it is a, “real-time, full-text searchable access to every official press release and official tweet from Capitol Hill plus the tweets of thousands of congressional staffers.”
But many staffers began to complain when they began finding their own private info on the thing. Worse, many found out of date or simply wrong info on it. As one staffer told Politico, “I was pretty surprised to show that they even listed who I married, when I married him and where. Why in the world does that need to be in there?”
Politico also said this: “A Democratic staffer said the new feature brings an unwelcome level of scrutiny to a group of people who haven’t sought the spotlight.”
Democrat or no, isn’t this staffer correct, here?
Listen, I am no fan of Hill staffers and have in the past said that most of them should be fired. It is a bad thing for our Republic that these people spend decades being passed from one Congressman or Senator to another even when said elected officials lose elections and go home. I am 100% against the idea of a permanent class of political operatives that never leave Washington that many of these staffers represent. Further, I am against the idea that these staffers sit around all day writing up legislation that our elected officials never actually see before sending it to a floor vote.
These people are private citizens. They aren’t elected and what they say doesn’t represent our elected officials unless those elected officials have made them a spokesman.
A staffer has a right to make an off color joke on Twitter without expecting what he said to become a federal case.
Now, I am all for listing and monitoring the official Twitter feeds of elected officials. I am also for the monitoring of any personal Twitter account they have because, after all, they are the elected official. But Hill staffers should have to fear their own personal social media being monitored as if they are the elected official.
Track what staffers do as part of their job, yes. But leave their personal Twitter accounts alone, won’t you? It is a step too far into of invasion of privacy.