Sometime between Nov. 5, 2013, and Nov. 20, 2013, a link to Sen. Rand Paul's Twitter handle disappeared from his official Senate website:
That detail—discovered through the Internet archive's records of websites called the "Wayback Machine"—may seem innocuous. But it reveals the nature of congressional social-media rules that require lawmakers to separate official speech from political campaign speech, and the ethical hoops members of Congress must jump through. Although members are not allowed to use political speech on their official websites or accounts, there are no such speech restrictions on personal sites and accounts. That balance has become trickier with the emergence of social media as a new platform for political speech.
Paul's Twitter account (@SenRandPaul) may have started out as an official account, but as it is used today, it's clearly personal—just look at all the potshots he's been taking at fellow potential presidential candidates via Twitter. Unlike many of his Senate colleagues, Paul does not have an official Senate Twitter account, opting instead to use his personal Twitter as an all-purpose account.
There are distinct political benefits of having one master account versus two disjointed accounts. By having an all-purpose Twitter account, Paul can reach constituents, reporters, and Republican Party players all at the same time. Come for the policy proposals, stay for the trolling!