Presidential Library Disclosure

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Maybe I’m tilting at windmills here, but I think that the fact that one of the first pieces of legislation to be passed by the House is one that provides greater transparency — the legislation requires foundations which sponsor presidential libraries to reveal their donors  — is a sign of the times

The fundraising for presidential libraries has been a blind spot when it comes to disclosure. Unlike contributions to an electoral campaign, gifts to the libraries have been unlimited and undisclosed, and they can take money from corporations and foreign governments. So the passage of the bill is an encouraging sign.

Lindsay Renick Mayer at CRPs’ Capital Eye blog raises a serious concern, however. The House bill is prospective only, meaning, in its present form, it would not require former presidents to reveal donations to their foundations and libraries. That’s a big problem. No disclosure from President Bush no required disclosure from President Clinton (just a handshake agreement on to do so).

The bill requires only quarterly reporting. And I’ve seen nothing about requiring this information to be reported directly on line, though eventually it will make its way on line via the Archivist. Eventually isn’t good enough.

Hopefully, lawmakers will fix this good intended yet flawed bill.

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