Montana Leads in Openness and So can Yours (if you ask)


Since its launch, on Tuesday, the Punch Clock Map has gotten some excellent support. The one of note is this editorial in Montana’s Helena Independent Record:

Delegation leads in openness
By IR staff – 12/13/07

Naively, no doubt, we were hoping that the Montana congressional delegation’s practice of posting their daily schedules on the Internet might catch on in Washington.

After all, it’s an easy way for members of Congress to show their commitment to transparency in government and maybe even help repair that institution’s tattered image.

No such luck. A national watchdog organization called the Sunlight Foundation recently applauded U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and Sen. Max Baucus and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg for being among only eight of the 535 members of Congress to post their schedules.

A foundation spokeswoman said congressional members often say they don’t want to reveal their schedules for reasons of security. That’s a particularly lame excuse. All they need to do is post their scheduled a day late, as the Montana delegation does. Yesterday’s schedule isn’t of much help to any bad guys lurking out there. The real reason so few are willing to make their schedules public is that they probably fear political operatives will be poring over their itineraries, searching for any ammo they can find for future attacks.But the main reason for elected officials to reveal their schedules is to be open with the people whom they represent. By showing the world how they are spending their days, politicians are proclaiming that they have no private agenda, are attending to the people’s business, and have nothing to hide.

In a Congress rife with influence peddling and worse, that’s of no small value. The openness of Tester, Baucus and Rehberg may not be the height of fashion inside the Washington D.C. beltway, but that’s all the more reason for folks back in Montana to be proud of them.

Montana should be proud of its delegation. These lawmakers decided to be ahead of the curve and brave the insecurity of being more transparent than anyone else. They have congressional guts. How do your representatives match up? Are they willing to be this transparent? You should call and ask them to post their schedules online.