ICYMI: In USA Today, Republican Chairmen Blast Obama's Legacy of Secrecy

Jared Powell • February 10, 2016

As the Supreme Court moved to block the administration’s efforts to wage war on coal, just across the street the House Republicans are fighting another battle: a battle against President Obama’s top-down government.

The “most transparent administration in history” has anything but transparent, and several House Committee Chairmen — Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ed Royce (R-CA), Jeff Miller (R-FL), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) — discuss the culture of secrecy in their new op-ed, published in the USA Today.  Below are excerpts from their op-ed:

On the Administration’s Lack of Transparency:   “When President Obama took office, he vowed to run “the most transparent administration in history.” …As his presidency draws to an end, those words would be laughable if the issue were not so serious… Numerous incidents involve the concealment of documents, providing only partial information, slow-walking congressional requests and using private email accounts and secret meetings to avoid official records-keeping laws. These sorts of tactics have become common practice for this administration.”

“According to an analysis of federal data by the Associated Press (AP), the Obama administration set new records two years in a row for denying the media access to government files. …It is the job of Congress and our agency watchdogs to ensure the federal government is efficient, effective and accountable to the American people. But time and time again, this administration has dismissed Americans’ right to know.”

On the Department of Veterans Affairs: “… It’s been more than 18 months since the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs revealed VA’s delays in care crisis to the nation, yet the department is sitting on more than 140 requests for information from the committee regarding everything from patient wait times to disciplinary actions for failed employees.” 

“VA’s disregard for congressional oversight was on full display Oct. 21, when committee Democrats and Republicans voted unanimously to subpoena five bureaucrats VA had refused to make available to explain their role in a scheme that resulted in the misuse of more than $400,000 in taxpayer money. Later, at a Nov. 2 follow-up hearing, two of the subpoenaed VA employees invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.”

On the EPA: “When the EPA refused to release the data it uses to justify its proposed air regulations, the historically bipartisan House Science Committee was compelled to issue its first subpoena in 21 years to retrieve the information….It’s not surprising that the non-partisan Center for Effective Government gave the EPA a grade of “D” in its most recent report for poor performance in providing access to information. This administration has created an unprecedented culture of secrecy that starts at the top and extends into almost every agency. While Congress is being thwarted in its efforts at oversight, it is really the American people who lose when those entrusted to enforce the law believe and act as if they are above it. It’s time to come clean, Mr. President. Don’t let a lack of transparency be your legacy.”

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