Yes, we know, you’re sick of reading about it. Well, we’re sick of writing about it! Hence this postscript to the whole saga of Stormie Janzen — the hot young Senate staffer whose sexy blog got shut down recently.
We’ve followed Stormiegate fairly closely, even obsessively, and now we’d like to close the loop on it. We wouldn’t want to leave you in suspense over the fate of the vivacious young blogress who gave rise to this pseudo-scandal (emphasis on “pseudo”).
To quote the Bard once again, “All’s well that ends well.” Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts offer this entertaining update in their Reliable Source column:
Stormie Janzen, 34, did not return calls yesterday. [Sen. Jeff Sessions's] spokesman Michael Brumas confirmed that Janzen still has a job: “We have dealt with this matter, and it’s closed.”
Oh, come on! Hasn’t anyone called offering a book contract? “I have no idea,” Brumas said wearily. “I doubt it.”
Okay. Has Playboy called? “Why are you asking me these questions?” he groaned.
Well, because we’re always on the lookout for the next Washington sex mini-scandal. Granted, Janzen’s page at MySpace.com isn’t going to get her there. Those who saw it say her writing was pretty PG-13, nothing nearly as spicy as the famous “Washingtonienne” diary that caused Jessica Cutler to lose her congressional staff job but gain a book contract. Then again, she does have a great name…
“If I can do it,” Cutler told us, “why not Stormie?”
Here’s our take on the whole matter: At the end of the day, what a government employee does in her private life is nobody’s business but her own. As long as Stormie is doing her job, and doing it well, the fact that she maintains a somewhat racy blog about her personal life — or, say, a whimsically irreverent, completely non-substantive blog about federal judges — has no bearing whatsoever on her employment.
Our polemic continues after the jump.
Because Stormie was not blogging about her work for Senator Sessions, the contents of her blog were of no concern to his office. So what if some random Alabama constituent couldn’t handle a little thong? That’s the constituent’s problem, not Stormie’s. It’s not like the constituent was tied to a chair in Guantanamo, eyes taped open, forced to stare at Stormie’s bare midriff…
The “blogging while at work”/”misuse of government resources” argument is a makeweight contention. Every job, and especially every government job, has lots of downtime. If Stormie wants to use her downtime to do a little creative writing, while other Sessions staffers use theirs to buy crap on eBay, what’s the harm in that? As for the computer use, federal government employees “may use Government resources for personal purposes,” as long as the use involves only “de minimis” — that’s legalese for “really really little” — additional expense to the government.
Merely working for the government should not prevent you from expressing yourself on matters not directly related to your employment (with direct relation construed narrowly). To adopt a contrary rule would exert an unwanted chilling effect, deterring anyone remotely interesting, creative, witty, or fun from entering government service — which, if the current Congress is any indication, has already happened.
In the words of Judge Richard Posner, speaking from the perspective of a government employee, “We have free speech too, don’t we?”
Okay, we’re stepping off our soapbox — back to the gossip…
Stormiegate: A Bit of Meta-Commentary
BREAKING (Despite the Elastic): Stormie Janzen’s Thong!
Stormie Janzen: Tempest in a Teapot?
Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back in the Blogosphere