Sunlight Letter To Leadership On Super Committee Transparency

On August 3, 2011, the Sunlight Foundation sent a letter to the House and Senate Leadership that urged that the new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction operate in a transparent and accountable manner. Here’s the PDF version of the letter. 

The Honorable John Boehner H-232 The Capitol Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Harry Reid 522 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi 235 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell 317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510

August 3, 2011

Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader Pelosi and Minority Leader McConnell:

We are writing to urge you to end the secrecy that has clouded debt limit negotiations up until now by ensuring that the new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction operates in a transparent and accountable manner. This committee has enormous responsibility and power, and must be open to public scrutiny in order to maintain public faith in its work. Public interest in the Committee’s work could hardly be greater, and the public, along with Members of Congress, must be able to evaluate its work, not just its final product.

While in recent years we have seen Congress improve online disclosure of its work, the Budget Control Act applies surprisingly few transparency requirements to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. There are a number of actions we urge you to take to ensure its work is open and transparent.

At a minimum, we request the Committee meet the following requirements:

• All official meetings and hearings should be webcast live and archived on the Joint Committee website.

• The text of the legislation and report resulting from the Committee’s work must be made available online 72 hours prior to the final committee vote.

• Contacts between lobbyists or other powerful interests and committee members or staff must all be disclosed online on a daily basis. Related written communications and documents should also be published online. (These requirements have already been applied by the Obama administration for the implementation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.)

• Campaign contributions received by members of the Committee should be published on campaign websites as they are received, daily.

• Members and staff must post their personal financial disclosures to prevent even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

There is strong precedent for each of our recommendations, and Congress should restore public trust by guaranteeing an open process for the Joint Committee. The Sunlight Foundation welcomes the opportunity to discuss this with you further. Please contact Policy Director John Wonderlich at or 202-742-1520 x 234 for further information.

Very truly yours,

Ellen S. Miller

Executive Director and Co-Founder