Transparency? … Depends on How You Define “Transparent,” of course.December 22, 2008
Barack Obama has promised a new era of transparency in his incoming administration, but don’t expect to see it in the transition. According to Politico, the promised report on contacts between Team Obama and Rod Blagojevich in the pay-for-play scandal will not include e-mails and other records. Transition teams do not have the same transparency requirements as White House administrations, and Obama won’t go beyond the requirements:
Barack Obama is promising that next week he’ll disclose contacts between his staff and disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s office, but he’s stopped short of pledging to release e-mails or other records that could be key to understanding those contacts.
Whatever such records exist may never see the light of day, thanks to a gap in government records disclosure laws that allows presidential transition teams to keep their documents — even those prepared using taxpayer dollars — out of the public record. …
But for now, a spokeswoman for President-elect Barack Obama said the transition team was not covered by a public information law that Politico cited in requesting copies of Obama staffers’ emails and notes about Blagojevich’s efforts to fill the Senate seat Obama vacated after winning the presidency.
Asked if the team would voluntarily release the records, the spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter, was non-committal. “Let’s wait and see what we put out after our internal review,” she told Politico. “I don’t even know if there’s any correspondence to be had, so one step at a time.”
Obama’s currently vacationing in Hawaii, and expect him to remain out of sight when the report gets released. His aides have already started to lower expectations by telling reporters that Obama won’t make any public statements about the release of the internal report Obama himself promised. After holding a series of press conferences to announce Cabinet appointments over the last two weeks, Obama has suddenly become as camera-shy as newly-minted wallflower Rahm Emanuel.