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Alan Grayson's Attention Grabbing "Names of the Dead"

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, October 22 2009

Orlando-area Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson is
continuing in his pattern of framing the debate over health insurance reform as a matter of life and death -- and driving Republicans absolutely crazy while he does it. Grayson has launched Names of the Dead, a barebones website that asks the public to send in the names of some of the 44,000 Americans that Grayson, apparently citing an upcoming report in the American Journal of Public Health, reports die from lack of health insurance each year.

(Grayson's new site features what might win the award for least-disguised email list building tool in all of recorded history. A poll on the site is curious, "Do you believe Congress should pass health care reform now?" Answer yes or answer no, your email address is still required.)

Over on Townhall, Matt Lewis is arguing that Grayson is breaking House ethics rules with the site. Now, House rules do treat harshly overtly political websites hosted on .gov domains. (Trust me on this one). Taxpayer dollars, the thinking goes, shouldn't go to trumpeting baldly political work. Besides the camaraderie of the House -- and public trust in the institution -- would be diminished with every domains. The free-flowing and often free Internet blurs the line between "official" and "unofficial." But on the technical points, Grayson's Names of the Dead is a dot-com site. And it is tagged with the note "Paid for by Congressman Alan Grayson." Grayson, a personally wealthy man, could surely cover the tab on this simple site, and political websites like leadership PACs and campaign sites don't carry the restrictions that official congressional websites do.

That said, those charged with protecting propriety in the House might not look kindly upon the fact that Grayson did announce the new site in a speech on the House floor. Lucky for Grayson that his fellow Democrats are running the show, and making the rules.