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Tag Archive: Tranparency

Secret Hold Placed on Senate Electronic Filing Bill

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Update: Here's Feingold's statement

Today Russ Feingold and Dianne Feinstein brought S.223, the Senate electronic disclosure bill, to the floor for a unanimous consent vote. When they asked if there was any objection Sen. Lamar Alexander, filling in for the minority leadership, announced that he had an objection, indicating that some Senator in the Republican caucus has placed a secret hold on the disclosure bill. This is twice in two years that a Senator has placed a secret hold on legislation providing for more disclosure to the public. Last year, it was the Coburn-Obama earmark database bill and a coalition of Right and Left bloggers smoked out both Sens. Ted Stevens and Robert Byrd as the secret holders. Don't these Senators know that we will find out who you are.

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Candidates Less Willing to Share Positions

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I had lunch a couple of weeks ago with Richard Kimball, the founder and president of Project Vote Smart, the nation's premier information resource about candidates for public office at all levels. If you haven't checked out your lawmakers (whether Congressional, Gubernatorial or state legislative) on their site, you're missing information you need to know before you vote.

Richard related to me a very distressing fact. That in this age of transparency, candidates are less willing to tell the people where they stand on issues.

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Joke About Congressional Transparency Circulating on the Internet

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Maybe when your seemingly wonky topic (e.g. transparency) makes it to status of a joke circulating on the Internet, your time has come. That's sort of the way I felt this morning, when the following appeared in my morning email. (See the last item.)



Put about 100 bricks in some particular order in a closed room with an open window. Then send 2 or 3 candidates into the room and close the door. Leave them alone, come back after 6 hours, and then analyze the situation.

If they are counting the bricks, put them in the accounting department.

If they are recounting them, put them in auditing.

If they have messed up the whole place with the bricks, put them in engineering.

If they are arranging the bricks in some strange order, put them in planning.

If they are throwing the bricks at each other, put them in operations.

If they are sleeping, put them in security.

If they have broken the bricks into pieces, put them in information technology.

If they are sitting idle, put them in human resources.

If they say they have tried different combinations, yet not a brick has been moved, put them in sales.

If they have already left for the day, put them in marketing.

If they are staring out of the window, put them in strategic planning.

If they are talking to each other, and not a single brick has been moved, congratulate them and put them in top management.

Finally, if they have surrounded themselves with bricks in such a way that they can neither be seen nor heard from, put them in Congress.

 

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Mid-Morning News:

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  • The Club for Growth Blog reports that Rep. [sw: Jim Moran] (D-VA) is really excited about earmarking. “When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I’m going to earmark the s—t out of it,” Moran buoyantly told a crowd of 450 attending the event.” Can we please get earmarking transparency -- QUICK!
  • The David Safavian trial is about to be handed to the jury to decide the former Bush administration official's fate. Did Safavian abuse his position to help Jack Abramoff? Was it a mistake for the prosecution to not send Abramoff to testify? Will Safavian's bumbling testimony lead to a guilty verdict as Ken Lay's did? I'm putting my money on the latter.
  • CongressDailyAM reports that the Democratic Caucus will vote on Thursday on the Steering Committee's recommendation that [sw: William Jefferson] be stripped of his seat on the Ways and Means Committee.
  • Also in CongressDailyAM, Speaker [sw: Dennis Hastert] (R-IL) plans on naming conferees to the lobbying and ethics reform conference committee. Don't expect much of the conference committee or the legislation that they create. Whatever comes out of that committee it will not be reform.
  • The Washington Post's Jeff Birnbaum reports that Congress is about to make it infinitely more difficult to lobby members of Congress through email. If you wish to send an email to your representative you will now have to complete a math problem. I'm going to go with MoveOn's Eli Pariser's statement about this: "We should be living in the golden age of politics -- an age in which every member of Congress can easily have a two-way conversation with his or her most engaged constituents. Instead, we're seeing bunkerization." Exactly. And why don't we have instant, searchable Internet disclosure of all information reported in Congress? This is the 21st Century isn't it?

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Transparency for Government Contracts

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When we created Sunlight we made a point to note that the issue of greater transparency for government actions was a nonpartisan issue. We saw support for it across party lines in our initial polling and we see it again today in an editorial in the conservative newspaper -- the Examiner --which endorses transparency for government grants and contracts. The paper strongly supports Sen. Tom Coburn's Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S. 2590) that would make all information about federal contracts and grants available to the public free of charge in a searchable, downloadable online format on the Internet. (Coburn is the original sponsor of the proposal, and the measure is co-sponsored by the unlikely bedfellows of Sens. Barack Obama, Tom Carper and John McCain, R-Ariz.)

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