Press Releases

Civic Organizations Warn White House on Failing Transparency Legacy

Contact: Daniel Schuman, 202-577-6100
Email: [email protected]

In a strongly worded letter, yesterday Demand Progress and twelve civic organizations warned President Obama that his legacy on transparency issues is in danger. After identifying serious failings on the part of the administration — including its efforts to undermine FOIA legislation, federal spending transparency legislation, and the stalling of its ethics agenda — the organizations issued this warning:

[W]hat troubles us is that it appears your White House team lacks the will and interest to undertake the challenge of this transformative work, and in some instances actively undermined forward progress. Indeed, in some areas that appear well within the administration’s control, there has even been backsliding — for instance, novel uses of the state secrets privilege and the unprecedented number of Espionage Act prosecutions for disclosures to the media.

There is a very real danger that instead of leaving the legacy of transparency that you intended, you risk leaving with a very different legacy: one of betrayed promises. Circumstances may force us to rate your administration as one that failed to fulfill its goals.

In this last year of your presidency, you have the opportunity to revive your legacy for open and transparent government.

The organizations recommended a series of remedial actions that, if taken in concert, may salvage the administration’s reputation.
The following can be attributed to Demand Progress Policy Director Daniel Schuman:

“As he nears the end of his term, President Obama has frittered away his legacy on transparency. He fought against two major transparency bills in his administration, abandoned ethics reform, failed to act to reign in political spending, undermined proactive disclosure, and ignored common-sense reforms. Troublingly, the president failed to support administration staffers who rallied to his calls for open government, leaving administration initiatives to play small ball when transformative change was possible. President Obama can still salvage his legacy, but he must act now before it is entirely too late.”

For more, view the letter here, and this Demand Progress Medium post.