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Gillibrand's Sunlight Report Pulls Back the Curtain

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Back when Kirsten Gillibrand was elected to the House of Representatives in 2006, she promised to post her daily schedule of meetings and events. This was an unprecendented action for a member of the House and Gillibrand kept up her promise for all of 2007-2008. Now that she has ascended to the Senate--chosen as a replacement for now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton--Gillibrand is continuing to post her schedule, this time in a much more detailed and impressive way.

Yesterday was the first day of Sen. Gillibrand's new schedule and it looks like this:

Sunlight Report for Wednesday, April 1, 2009

- Hosted Congressional HIV/AIDS Briefing

  • Meeting with Ed Malloy, President of the NYS Building and Construction Trades Council and Ed Smith, President of Union Labor Life Insurance Company to discuss ARRA funds for job creation in New York State

  • Gave speech to the United Jewish Communities organization on health care reform, the federal budget and foreign policy

  • Floor votes (see Congressional Record)

  • Meeting with Charles Myers to discuss frozen credit markets

  • Meeting with Eli Feldman, President of Metropolitan Jewish Health

  • Meeting with Mayor Brian Stratton to discuss appropriations requests for Schenectady

The noteworthy parts of her schedule are found in the meetings with interests and individuals who are clearly lobbying. In this case, as opposed to many of the other six lawmakers posting their schedules, she provides clear information on the employment of those she meets with and what they are discussing. The latter piece of information is crucial and is rarely seen in other schedules.

This meeting, for instance, provides us with a decent amount of information regarding who is lobbying her office and for what: "Meeting with Ed Malloy, President of the NYS Building and Construction Trades Council and Ed Smith, President of Union Labor Life Insurance Company to discuss ARRA funds for job creation in New York State." (Emphasis mine.) This kind of transparency allows her constituents to be able to track who is lobbying her office and what for.

While this isn't what ideal, legally binding disclosure would look like, it is impressive from a position of voluntary disclosure. Hopefully, this kind of information will be a regular feature of her schedule.

When Gillibrand ascended to the Senate, I wrote that, as a senator, she should aim to improve her schedule:

In [continuing her spirit of transparency], she should aim to improve the content of her official schedule. One thing we’ve noticed is that her schedule has grown sparse, only notes official events, and does not list meetings with anyone from outside of government. In moving to the Senate, Gillibrand should aim for a higher standard of transparency in her schedule.

It is great to see her schedule, not only return to listing all meetings, as it did when it began, but increasing the breadth of information disclosed to the public.