Sunday, June 28, 2009

President Obama’s promises of greater government transparency haven’t panned out. Multiple transparency problems afflict the Obama administration.

Just last week, the administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for White House logs showing the names of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Mr. Obama’s “clean coal” policies. This is the same Mr. Obama who as senator castigated the “secret energy meetings” with oil executives at the White House during the Bush administration.

Unfortunately, as if that isn’t enough, the Democrats have yet another new transparency problem.

Now we even have the man that Mr. Obama picked as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, refusing Freedom of Information Act requests in Virginia. Mr. Kaine has been traveling the country raising money as head of the DNC - which is obviously what he should be doing for his party. But Mr. Kaine may be raising money with Virginia taxpayers covering some of the his fund raising costs.

Mr. Kaine refuses to release his trip itineraries, claiming security and privacy concerns. He maintains that revealing such details as whether there was taxpayer-funded security could endanger the governor’s life. We find these arguments dubious as Mr. Kaine never bebefore raised such objections related to public events that he attended as governor. Indeed, he used to be very forthcoming and even boasted of his schedules in advance to ensure that Virginia voters knew everything that he was doing for them. Now voters can’t even find out about trips for the DNC after they have occurred.

Lynda Tan, Gov. Kaine’s spokesman, told us that “it just isn’t the practice” for the DNC or the governor’s political action committee to release this information. When asked why the governor, who heads the DNC as well as his own PAC, doesn’t change the policy so that Virginia’s voters can be assured that their money isn’t going to help the governor fund raise for the party, Ms. Tan told us to talk to the DNC. Despite numerous requests for an explanation on Wednesday, Megan Jacobs, a DNC spokesman, told us that the DNC just wasn’t “going to be able to get back” to us on it.

Ms. Tan told us that Mr. Kaine doesn’t have to legally turn over his DNC travel itineraries. But since Mr. Kaine really serves at President Obama’s discretion, he is really Mr. Obama’s responsibility. Mr. Obama should insist that Mr. Kaine come clean so that Virginia voters can be assured that they aren’t picking up the tab for the national Democratic party.

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