Thursday, March 20, 2008

Columnist: Sunshine Week is time for presidential candidates to come clean about open government

As Sunshine Week rolls on, Mark Fitzgerald of Editor & Publisher writes that the presidential candidates are overdue in speaking out on issues of open government and full disclosure. He explains that the American Society of Newspaper Editors had failed to any draw a response to its open government survey until Sen. Hillary Clinton responded on Saturday. Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain have failed to answer. Fitzgerald writes:
Clinton squeaked under the Sunshine Week wire with a survey that repeatedly wags its finger at the 'excessive secrecy' of the Bush administration -- and ignores her own transparency-challenged record.

Obama at long last used the lull between primaries late last week to finally address an issue he has preferred to keep in the shadows for the past year -- the full extent of his political and financial relationship with Illinois power broker Tony Rezko, who is now on trial in Chicago on federal corruption charges.

He has yet to respond to the Sunshine Week survey, but, as the indefatigable Chicago Sun-Times political columnist Lynn Sweet -- who deserves much of the credit for pressuring Obama to come clean -- reports, he now believes he's positioned to make a campaign issue of transparency."
Fitzgerald says that Clinton has "talked the talk" but has still not released tax returns or her records as First Lady. He says McCain refuses to release his tax returns and supports keeping certain Vietnam War documents classified. At the same time, McCain does support a federal shield law for reporters. Fitzgerald's main point is that it's definitely time for openness — as it relates to the candidates and government in general — became an issue on the campaign trail. (Read more)

Sunshine Week continues through Saturday. More information is available here.

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