It’s official: “Transparency” you can believe in has left the building

Tim Carney files this disturbing report:

Obama transferred “ethics czar” Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen’s duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.

Bauer is renowned as a “lawyer’s lawyer” and a legal expert. His resume, however, reads more “partisan advocate” than “good-government crusader.” Bauer came to the White House from the law firm Perkins Coie, where he represented John Kerry in 2004 and Obama during his campaign.

Bauer has served as the top lawyer for the Democratic National Committee, which is the most prolific fundraising entity in the country. Then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the caricature of a cutthroat Chicago political fixer, hired Bauer to represent the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In the White House, Bauer is tight with Emanuel, having defended Emanuel’s offer of a job to Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., whom Emanuel wanted out of the Senate race.

Another Bauer client was New Jersey Sen. Robert “Torch” Torricelli back in 2001. When one Torricelli donor admitted he had reimbursed employees for their contributions to the Torch — thus circumventing contribution limits — Bauer explained, “All candidates ask their supporters to help raise money from friends, family members and professional associates.”

Bauer’s own words — gathered by the diligent folks at the Sunlight Foundation — show disdain for openness and far greater belief in the good intentions of those in power than of those trying to check the powerful. In December 2006, when the Federal Election Commission proposed more precise disclosure requirements for parties, Bauer took aim at the practice of muckraking enabled by such disclosure.

On his blog, Bauer derided the notion “that politicians and parties are pictured as forever trying to get away with something,” saying this was an idea for which “there is a market, its product cheaply manufactured and cheaply sold.” In other words — we keep too close an eye on our leaders.

In August 2006 Bauer blogged, “disclosure is a mostly unquestioned virtue deserving to be questioned.” This is the man the White House has put in charge of making this the most open White House ever.


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.

Ed Morrissey adds:

Not that this is much of a comedown. Let’s recall that Eisen played a key role in the firing of Inspector General Gerald Walpin after he tried to blow the whistle on a sweetheart settlement that rescued an Obama supporter from political doom. Eisen failed to provide the necessary notice to Congress and instead instigated a smear of Walpin as mentally deficient in order to cover the White House’s tracks. Terminating IGs, who are supposed to be independent, hardly upholds the concepts of transparency and accountability.

(Above link to my blog added by me)

Of course, this is no surprise to any of us who followed the campaign of candidate Obama closely, so what we have here is sort of a large scale “Toldjah so” moment. Some posts I wrote on the issue of lobbyists and “transparency” and IG firings from 2007-2009:

8/9/07 – Confronting media-aided myths: Barack Obama is no political “outsider”
2/20/08 – Whopper of the week: Barack Obama’s claim that he is responsible “to no one but the people”
2/21/08 – Barack Obama’s ties to lobbyists and special interests
2/21/08 – Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama rank number 1 and 2 for most contributions by lawyers and lobbyists
2/27/08 – Obama indicates he will not, as previously pledged, opt for public financing if he becomes the Dem nominee
2/27/08 – Obama’s campaign finance games
5/25/08 – More on Obama’s hypocrisy regarding lobbyists
6/19/08 – Obama’s position on public financing: Just words
6/23/08 – Barack Obama betrays his own words once again on special interests
7/31/08 – Eight watchdog groups find McCain more transparent about campaign donations than Obama
8/14/08 – Questionable Obama campaign donations
9/15/08 – More on Barack Obama’s “responsible only to the people” lie
10/29/08 – Obama campaign donors get access to “top campaign advisers”, depending on how much they donate
1/31/09 – Tax issues and lobbyist links strike another Obama cabinet pick
6/18/09 – Another IG firing, and the leashing of another

I could go on and on, as the “transparency” issues with this administration have continued well into his first (and hopefully only) term in office, but you get the point. The fact is that the promise to be more “open, honest, and transparent” was, well, a transparent lie, just like the admin’s promises on jobs, health care, etc etc. The only “transparency” this administration has ever been interested in is in opening up Bush-era related documents for the world – including our enemies – to see. So when candidate Obama pledged to have the most “transparent” adminstration in history, he meant transparency as it related to previous administrations, not his. But he did indeed succeed in being “transparent”, but just not in the way he promised to his adoring followers.

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