Report from Sunlight/National Press Club Panel: “Transparency in the First Branch”


Yesterday at the National Press Club, the Sunlight Foundation held a Sunshine Week Event: “Sunshine in the First Branch: How Transparent is Congress?” The panel consisted of Mark Tapscott (Examiner), John Solomon (Washington Post), Jonathan Salant (Bloomberg), Bill Allison (Sunlight), Rafael Degennero (Read the Bill), Matt Stoller (MyDD, Open House Project). The event went incredibly well with a room full of reporters with great questions and a panel with a breadth of knowledge and experience.

Matt Stoller approached transparency from a blogger’s perspective saying that, “Government structure is not always compatible with how the internet works.” John Solomon described investigating the motivation behind decisions, and talked about how the internet is essential in getting a “global view” of how Members of Congress make decisions. Jon Salant talked about how there is surprisingly little financial disclosure information on the internet, and how making this data available and in an easily searchable format could make a big difference. Bill Allison addressed the problems of the woefully inadequate disclosure filings and how little policing there is regarding Congress and Executive communications. Rafael Degennero posed this questions, “If a bill passes the Congress and becomes law and no elected official understood is that democracy?”

This is just a brief summary of the fascinating conversation that took place. We will be posting a full video shortly.

If you would like the complete notes let me know!