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Grassley demands more transparency

By Staff | Jun 19, 2009

During his campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama pledged to run a government that would adhere to high ethical standards. He pledged to diminish the influence in Washington of special interests by banning from his administration individuals who had worked recently as corporate lobbyists.

On his first full day in office, the new president issued Executive Order 13490 – Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel. The order prohibited service by such individuals in the executive branch. Recognizing that a blanket prohibition might deny to the government the services of a small number of people whose special talents were critical, the Executive Order included a provision for waiving the lobbyist exclusion if that was deemed warranted. It also made appointments possible if a former lobbyist agreed to refrain from working on matters that pertained to the interests of a former client.

Sen. Charles Grassley has called upon the administration to do a better job of making public the reasons why waivers have been granted in some cases and recusals deemed appropriate in others. On June 10, he wrote the director of the Office on Government Ethics, Robert I. Cusick, requesting that all the waivers and related recusals be gathered together and made public. He argued persuasively that unless this was done it would be impossible to evaluate whether the president and his team were making a good-faith effort to comply with the intent of the Executive Order.

“The American people deserve a full accounting to better understand who is running the government and whether the administration is adhering to its promise to be open, transparent and accountable,” the Iowa Republican said in a statement accompanying a release to the public of his letter to Cusick.

“I’m just asking the Obama administration to live up to its word,” Grassley said.

Many Iowans were early supporters of Obama’s campaign because they trusted his pledge to make accountability and transparency themes of his administration. The Farm News strongly supports Grassley’s request. The administration should demonstrate through prompt and complete disclosure of the waivers and recusals that the president intends to deliver on that commitment.

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