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In January of 2007, freshman Democratic congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand became the first member of the House of Representatives to post... View ArticleContinue reading
Delegation leads in openness
By IR staff - 12/13/07Naively, 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. Continue reading
With the advent of Rep. Rehberg (MT) posting his schedule to his official congressional Web site, Montana bloggers and newspapers have asked if Sen. Baucus would join his fellow lawmakers and post his schedule, as well. Lawmakers who agree to share their schedule show that they’re responsive, open, transparent and above all accountable to their constituents. When citizens can find out who has the ears of their lawmakers they can fairly determine if those lawmakers are making fair decisions. The information is vital to a strong democracy because it allows, for the first time, a voter to engage in the daily life of their elected official. The Montana Standard agrees -- on Sunday they printed an editorial making the point thatWith just three people representing the fourth largest state in the country, our congressional delegation already faces a great challenge in trying to stay in touch with Montanans, and this one relatively easy way to keep people in the loop.Given the distance between Washington DC and Montana it could be frustrating to a Montanan to feel connected to their representative. But, with a schedule, people know that members of Congress are, in fact, meeting with people in the district and keeping those needs in mind daily. Bloggers are also asking, Don Pogreba’s blog Intelligent DiscontentIt's time for Senator Max Baucus to do the right thing. Following the lead of Senator Tester and Representative Rehberg, it's time for Max to start telling Montana voters how he spends his days in Washington.and Jay Steven’s Left in the West "So you know what this means! Max Baucus is the only Montana federal-level representative hiding his business behind a cloud."
The value of a daily available schedule is not lost and constituents actually see the value and want to see all their Representatives do the right thing. We have seen the power that Montana Bloggers have in demanding accountability from their elected officials, and I am confident that Sen. Baucus will do the right thing by his constituents. There’s hope he’s already considering it. Today, the Billings Gazette published an editorial citing, Sen. Baucus’ spokesperson, Barrett Kaiser stating “…said last week that the senator is considering posting his schedule.”Continue reading
Rep. Dennis Rehberg is the 7th Member of Congress (and the second from Montana) to put a daily schedule online. Montana freshman, Sen. Jon Tester, made a campaign promise to post his schedule and he has been posting it since the beginning of his term. The existence of Tester’s schedule prompted the Helena Independent Record to ask Rep. Rehberg and Sen. Baucus if they were thinking of posting one also. Rehberg’s spokesman said his schedule was available to anyone who called his office and asked but when bloggers decided to take him up on that offer they found out that his schedule was available only if you were in Washington (more responses here). Later, an article in the Missoula Independent quoted Rep. Rehberg’s chief of staff saying that when the website was redesigned Mr. Rehberg’s schedule will be posted daily.Continue reading
Montana politicians Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) and Sen. Max Baucus (D) replaced lobbyists working as treasurers on their political action committees in the wake of the lobbying scandal in Washington, according to the Billings Gazette. Sen. Conrad Burns (R), the other Montana lawmaker, has no plans to remove the lobbyist who works as his campaign chairman.