Happy Birthday! The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) is now five years old. But has it made government any more open or honest? Many people might say “uh, no.” In fact, most people would say “no.” Lobbyists.info and the George Washington School of Political Management recently released a report (available at www.lobbyists.info) that looks at this question from the perspective of lobbyists. Survey respondents do, in general, believe that HLOGA has greatly increased the amount of information available to the public and decreased the ability of lobbyists to impact legislative decisions (an outcome the American people seem to want).
I’m sure you greet that statement with a fair amount of
skepticism. But do you really KNOW that
hasn’t happened? It’s in vogue these
days to say that it’s impossible to learn what special interests are doing in
D.C.. Before you say that (or even think
it), go to the lobbying disclosure database at http://lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov/
or the Sunlight Foundation at www.sunlightfoundation.com. I promise you’ll learn more than you want to
about who is lobbying for or against what.
Projects to increase government openness -- like the
Sunlight Foundation, www.OpenSecrets.org
(a site that tracks campaign contributions) and www.Legistorm.org (a site that tracks information
about Congressional staff) flourished after the passage of HLOGA. Indeed, many of these organizations were instrumental
to their passage. So before you get all
outraged about the lack of transparency, go see what’s out there. And check out who is lobbying for the issues
you like as well as against them. You
might be surprised. It’s not all
corporations and business interests.
Many lobbyists are representing day-to-day interests – and they need
your help to make a difference.
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