If the White House does not publish visitor logs, Congress should mandate disclosure



Today, Sunlight announced its support for the Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness (MAR-A-LAGO) Act. This bill would require the White House to publish the visitor logs that are collected by the Secret Service when members of the public are vetted to enter 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As we documented in February, the White House removed Obama-era visitor logs from open.whitehouse.gov and has not committed to ongoing disclosure of new logs collected during the Trump administration, despite months of inquiries from members of the media.

That’s a mistake. While we continue to hope that this White House would adopt a democratic norm that had been established over the past decade, we strongly support Congress institutionalizing this transparency reform and hope that the Republican leadership will choose to sponsor the bills.

“The Obama administration’s voluntary online disclosure of the White House visitor logs provided the American public with a meaningful window into the influence and operations of the White House, despite its flaws.” said John Wonderlich, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, in a statement provided to the Congressional offices sponsoring the bill in the U.S. House and Senate.

Given President Donald Trump’s adoption of the “Southern White House,” we also support the extension of disclosure beyond 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“If the Trump administration isn’t going to continue a practice that was widely lauded by leaders across the political spectrum, Congress should mandate disclosure to guarantee public access to the visitor log records,” said Wonderlich.

“As long as President Trump continues to conduct public business in his private business, the same standards of disclosure should apply to Mar-a-Lago as the White House. President Trump has brought unprecedented conflicts of interest to the Presidency. The public deserves more sunshine on his opaque estate in the Sunshine State.”