The Members of Congress that post their schedules online are models of what transparency in Congress should look like. In a system where politicians are careful, to the point of paranoia, about what information is spread about them, the elected officials who are brave enough to post their meetings, to make sure their constituents get as much information as possible, should be seen as pioneers.
In today’s NYT this article about Rep. Gillibrand stated:
Shortly after taking office, Ms. Gillibrand directed her staff to publish the details of her meetings, no matter how sensitive, on her Congressional Web site, calling the listing the Sunlight Report. But Republicans see these reports as a potential trove of damaging information. Examining them, they discovered, for instance, that Ms. Gillibrand, while vacationing with her family in Europe recently, held several fund-raisers for her re-election campaign, including two in London and one in Paris. … (The Gillibrand camp insisted that attendees were required to show American passports before being permitted into the events and that no money was donated by foreign citizens.)
In an interview, Mr. Brady accused Ms. Gillibrand of hypocrisy, saying that she had denounced Mr. Sweeney during the campaign for holding a weekend fund-raiser with pharmaceutical lobbyists at a ski resort in Park City, Utah.
…But to Gillibrand supporters who have been concerned that Republicans may use her Sunlight Report against her, the episode shows that “no good deed goes unpunished,” as one of her advisers put it.
Rep. Gillibrand signed the Punch Clock Agreement and fulfilled a promise to make her work in Congress transparent and to put her constituents first. This transparency step was unprecedented- shortly after Sen. Tester (D-MT) followed suit, then Rep. Doolittle (R-CA/4), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL/11) . These elected officials have decided to make a change and really move toward reforming the system by creating a way let their constituents into the process of governing. The fact that her opponents decided to use this information against her, makes it clear that this kind of transparency is extraordinary. The fact that they are quick to say she isn’t being ethical by pointing to her schedule, where she clearly says what she has been doing, is both ironic and not very creative on their part. There is no gotcha here, her schedule was there for her constituents to see and her openness should be commended. If her opponents want to say she isn’t being ethical then I ask them to sign the 2008 Punch Clock Agreement and show us how ethical they are. For their convenience the form is provided right here .