A Transparent Lack Of Transparency

Well this is interesting!

Remember this?

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government

ObamaTooAwesomeForTheRoomMy Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

Sounds great! Sign me up!

But wait, what’s this? Time apparently has a bone to pick with Politico:

A column in Politico magazine today makes the astonishing claim that President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had just one in-person meeting at the White House between March 23, 2010, the day the Affordable Care Act was signed, and Nov. 30, 2013….

The problem? Sebelius and the President did meet–a lot. “She is frequently at the White House for meetings related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including dozens with the President in the last year alone,” says Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for HHS. “In fact, she met with the President just yesterday.”

Do tell! That’s fascinating! But it does sorta kinda raise a few questions, doesn’t it (emphasis added)?

The White House’s response to the GAI calendar investigation is absurd and alarming.

Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday, “Cabinet secretaries don’t regularly get entered into the visitor logs.” The GAI report was not based on visitor logs; it was based on the White House’s own calendar and the POLITICO presidential calendar.

Obama’s calendar lists 277 one-on-one meetings between the president and his other Cabinet secretaries, including 73 with former Secretary Clinton and 57 with former Secretary Geithner. If, as Carney claims, Secretary Sebelius “is here a lot and meets with the president with regularity,” why aren’t they listed? How many meetings took place and when did they occur? Carney said he doesn’t know.

And if Obama and Sebelius worked together closely and regularly, why did the president publicly state he did not know about the problems with HealthCare.gov?

In the name of transparency, Americans deserve to know how much time President Obama personally spent over three-and-a-half years leading, managing and working alongside Secretary Sebelius on his signature achievement.

Awkward! But the awkwardness reaches far beyond the particulars of meetings with Secretary Sebelius. “In the name of transparency,” we generally deserve to know who traipses in and out of the White House, one would think.

It’s difficult to imagine this sort of record-keeping laxity being tolerated by the Federal government, were it to occur in the private sector.

For me, not for thee, peasants.


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