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Tough Lessons Learned for Staffer Resigning Over First Daughters Comments

Another Capitol Hill staffer learns the rough lesson of the power of words and social media.  

Elizabeth Lauten , communications director to Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., resigned after her disparaging comments about Sasha and Malia Obama went viral over the holiday weekend.  

It's a tough ending for Lauten, but it’s not the first time a staffer has lost a position over social media blunders.  

We don’t know the behind-the-scenes of Lauten, her office and their decision. But there are some handy rules that are worth repeating, lest others fall to the same fate.  

Privacy settings does not equal privacy. Even the best privacy settings don’t mean much in the insta-age of Twitter, screen grabs and 1000-plus Facebook “friends.” If you don’t want to be associated with your words, don’t write them.  

Scrutiny is greater for press secretaries/communications directors. All of us make mistakes, but the spokesperson, more than any other position, must understand the power of words — especially harsh words. A good spokesperson knows his or her comments and actions are attached to someone else, and if that’s a member of Congress, to act accordingly.  

Kids are off limits. It’s not just that these are the first daughters, these are kids. Democrat or Republican, high-ranking or low, kids are usually trotted out for the campaign photo and Christmas card, then tucked away in private lives. Sling mud all you like between parties and opponents, but political courtesy (if such exists) deems insults to kids off limits.  

Related: Stephen Fincher Catches Shrapnel From Aide's Attack on Obama Girls GOP Spokeswoman Resigns After Criticizing Obama’s Daughters Lauten Makes Decisions Based on Fincher’s District | Hill Climber Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

Topics: what-not-to-do