Transparency Should Go Both Ways

Steve Benen, writing this morning for The Maddow Blog, hit upon a terrific idea.

Vitter & InhofeHe notes that two Republican senators have sent a letter to acting EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe demanding “transparency from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on their relationships with environmental groups” so that “the public can see how these groups are shaping policy.”

Their letter states,

It is important for Congress to understand the relationship between [the] EPA and nongovernmental organizations, particularly as it relates to the coordination and influence over public policymaking. Moreover, these relationships have the potential to push states and other stakeholders out of the process. Accordingly, releasing the correspondence between the EPA and these entitles is in the public interest. 

Benen asks, “Why not also apply those same standards for disclosure to the senators themselves?”

The far-right senators are worried about the Sierra Club chatting with the EPA about clean-air standards? Fine. I’m worried about ExxonMobil lobbyists chatting with Republican senators about the same thing.

Benen suggests making a few minor adjustments to the wording of the senators’ demand. I agree, and recommend that these standards for transparency should apply to all members of Congress. The new demand would then read as follows (my changes in italics):

It is important for the people to understand the relationship between Congress and nongovernmental organizations (such as lobbyists), particularly as it relates to the coordination and influence over public policymaking. Moreover, these relationships have the potential to push states and other stakeholders out of the process. Accordingly, releasing the correspondence between the Congress and these entitles is in the public interest.

The public does have a right to know which lobbyists and which organizations are influencing public policy in Congress. It is time for full transparency.

About politspectator
Edward Clayton grew up in the US but has lived in Canada for the last 4 decades. He is a long time peace activist and committed to issues of social justice and good government. He reports on Canadian, American, and global politics from a Canadian perspective.

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