Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was spotted this week using an Amazon Kindle electronic reader inside the Senate chamber.

This is likely the first Kindle used inside the august chambers, where the use of cell phones and electronic devices is officially banned, although both members and (much less frequently) staffers use smartphones.

ITK contacted the Senate Sergeant at Arms office to see whether there was an exception to the ban for Kindles, but a spokeswoman could not immediately comment, saying this was the first time she had heard of a Kindle being used in the chamber. There was a similar response on the House side, where a spokesman for the Chief Administrative Officer of the House said he didn't believe there were rules in place governing electronic readers.

The lack of guidance governing new technologies is frustrating to a senior GOP House aide who spoke to ITK. "They don't even have Twitter or Facebook rules yet, and we need those desperately," he said.

A Senate aide also complained that what rules exist are unevenly enforced, "It's pretty ridiculous that I can't even open an e-mail from my boss while I'm with them in the chamber, but Orrin Hatch can surf the web on his Kindle."

Hatch's office declined to comment.


H/T: Walter Alarkon