Transparency is Contagious

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In 2007, then Minority Leader Boehner spoke at the press conference announcing our Open House Project report, which identified changes the House should enact to become more open. Speaker Pelosi’s initial endorsement kicked off the project, and many of the reforms we identified were enacted by the Speaker and the Congress over the next three years.

Once again, as leadership roles change, enthusiasm for transparency is contagious. In fact, it’s the one issue party leaders often agree on, at least in general terms.

Promises and rhetoric from both sides only become real through work and commitment, and we’re going continue to work diligently to enact the reforms at the heart of Sunlight’s mission. From our Rules package, to campaign finance disclosure, earmark transparency, to the 72 Hour Rule and beyond, we’re diving through the transparency issues facing the President and the Congress.

For just a taste of the transparency commitments in the last few days, here’s President Obama in today’s press conference:

Q Is there anything in the “Pledge to America” that you think you can support?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I’m sure there are going to be areas, particularly around, for example, reforming how Washington works, that I’ll be interested in. I think the American people want to see more transparency, more openness. As I said, in the midst of economic crisis, I think one of the things I take responsibility for is not having pushed harder on some of those issues. And I think if you take Republicans and Democrats at their word this is an area that they want to deliver on for the American people, I want to be supportive of that effort.

…and here is Eric Cantor’s proposal (pdf) for how Congress should function,

…and here is Leader Boehner speaking recently about the 72 hour rule.

We’ve been tracking promises and issue areas where we’ll be working, and will pursue them all vigorously, especially in the coming months.

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  • Jasmith Chriest

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  • One worries that people may be talking about very different ideas about transparency and being open when they raise it in speeches or on talk shows as opposed to what they have in legislation. Clearly some people who say they are for it in one sphere appear to be against it disclosing who backs particular media efforts. Making the concepts work across these different spheres may be quite difficult and is not initially contagious.