Somehow, some way, this has to be a bad joke, right? Barack Obama made a big deal about creating the Most Transparent Administration Evah in the 2008 Hope and Change campaign, and after taking office appointed a transparency “czar,” which is in itself a contradiction in terms. Eighteen months later, Obama has eliminated the position:
This perfectly captures the Obama White House’s attitude toward disclosure. Sure, the administration publish the names of all White House visitors, but, as the New York Times reported a few weeks back, White House folks just meet their lobbyists at Caribou Coffee across the street. Sure, they restrict the work of ex-lobbyists in the administration, but lobbyists who de-list aren’t questioned.
And we’ve seen just a few of the e-mails former Google lobbyist, now Obama tech policy guru, Andrew McLaughlin traded with current Google lobbyists using his Gmail account, but who knows what else the White House whiz kids are doing to avoid the Presidential Records Act — Facebook messages? Twitter direct messages? …
The Sunlight Foundation is also concerned about the fact the White House no longer has anyone whose job is transparency, as Eisen’s job was. John Wonderlich, at SunglightFoundation.com, lists a few transparency promises on which the president hasn’t followed through, including earmark transparency, a single Web site (Ethics.gov) with all ethics and accountability information, and better lobbying disclosure, among others.
The White House wants to reassure everyone that the duties won’t disappear, however. They will transfer Norm Eisen’s duties as he leaves to become US Ambassador to the Czech Republic to … Obama’s chief counsel, Robert Bauer — because attorneys are all about full public disclosure of activities. Timothy Carney gives Washington Examiner readers a primer on Bauer’s commitment to openness and transparency: