Facebook adds another page to lawmakers’ life stories

If there’s any question about whether lawmakers are using Facebook for political purposes, look no further than the profile of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

“Spending time with my family, climbing, flying, hiking, working for my constituents in Iowa,” reads the “activities” section of the Iowa senator’s profile. He’s one of many who highlight their public service on their Facebook profile.

Content of lawmakers’ pages varies widely, with some lawmakers merely pasting verbiage from their official websites into their “About Me” descriptions and others using a folksier approach to provide little-known details of their likes, dislikes, habits and personal lives.

Noteworthy contents of lawmakers’ profiles:

• In her profile photo, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) reveals that she can bowl in a skirt, her arms and legs extended into a star formation as a purple ball plops onto a lane.

• Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) provides a personal e-mail address — chuck_grassley@yahoo.com — on his profile. But a message sent there went unanswered.

• Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) received a birthday wish on his page from a profile identified by the username and photo of Wes Clark, former Army general and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate. “Ron — Happy Birthday! — Wes,” the message reads.

• The political designation “moderate” has convened an odd group of lawmakers. They include Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Reps. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dennis Moore (D-Kan.).

• Those who logged into Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-Ohio) profile last week would have seen that he is one of the few lawmakers who make frequent use of Facebook’s popular status-update feature. Last week Ryan informed his Facebook friends, “Tim is in a sub-committee hearing,” and “Tim is out of session until next week!”

• Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) profile seems purposefully bland, listing such activities as “spending time with my grandchildren; also art, theater, and of course, politics.”