Read the Bills Act Coalition

Monday, December 29, 2008

Not to Sweet for Obama's Transparency

From Chicago Sun Times Lynn Sweet:

The Obama team, pledging the ''most open and transparent transition in history,'' gets ... a ''F'' when it comes to revealing transition meetings with groups. Contrary to its own ''seat at the table transparency policy,'' meetings are not posted on a Web site....I'm giving a ''B'' to the Obama transition report on staff contacts with Gov. Blagojevich. The report was a summary narrative released last week of an internal inquiry into Gov. Blagojevich's selling-of-a-Senate seat scandal. While the Obama team deserves credit for disclosure -- including that President-elect Barack Obama and incoming White House staffers Valerie Jarrett and Rahm Emanuel met with federal prosecutors -- offering some notes or transcripts to support the conclusions would have been helpful......The Obama transition team has failed to disclose information from its meetings. ... During the presidential primary campaign, then candidate Obama, still an Illinois senator, made a pledge I heard for the first time on Oct. 24, 2007. In a school gym in Dover, N.H., Obama said if president, he would post his meetings on the Internet. That was interesting to me because Obama's Senate staff had been very selective about what Obama Senate-related meetings they disclosed and seemed to be guided by a ''less is best'' policy....A month after the election, on Dec. 5, John Podesta, a transition co-chair, issued an Obama transparency policy. When it comes to meetings, ''the date and organizations represented at official meetings in the Transition headquarters or agency offices'' would be ''posted on our Web site,'' at www.change.gov....Indeed, the ''seat at the table'' section states ''on this page, you can track these meetings, view documents provided to the Transition and leave comments for the team,'' but the statement is only partly true....What is posted are materials -- for example, briefing or position papers -- submitted by groups in connection with a transition meeting. There is no list of meetings on the site, with a meeting defined in the policy as having three or more participants....Transition spokesman Nick Shapiro, asked why the meetings are not posted despite the policy, said, ''This policy is part of President-elect Obama's commitment to run the most open and transparent transition in history. The transition staff has been instructed that this is a floor and not a ceiling. No transition has ever attempted to implement such disclosure requirements, and as we continue to evaluate the policy, refinements will be made to it."


Read Here: http://www.suntimes.com/news/sweet/1352924,CST-NWS-sweet29.article

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