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Sun, sun, sun, here it comes. Welcome to the Summer of Belated Epiphanies. Media lapdogs are finally, finally arriving at the conclusion that maybe this isn’t the most transparent administration in world history, after all
On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported on the Obama administration’s use of secret email accounts, stonewalling on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and attempted shakedown of reporters seeking public information on just how widespread the disclosure evasion might be.
Take note: It wasn’t the AP that originally uncovered Team Obama’s penchant for email sock-puppetry. Chris Horner, Competitive Enterprise Institute fellow and author of “The Liberal War on Transparency,” first exposed former EPA Chief Lisa Jackson’s Internet alter ego, “Richard Windsor,” last year. The free-market environmental think tank filed suit against the government last fall seeking records on the secret, illegal “secondary” email accounts of high-level EPA officials after the agency ignored multiple FOIA filings.
Seven months after President Obama was re-elected, along comes the AP to bolster Horner’s assertion that the practice is not just isolated in one bureaucracy. Corruptocrat Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (whose document-shredding, obstructionist history I chronicled last week) maintained at least one FOIA-subverting address: KGS2@hhs.gov. So did Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a top Obamacare operative.
According to the AP, a whopping 10 agencies have not yet turned over lists of email addresses, including EPA, the Pentagon, the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Commerce, and Agriculture.
And how’s this for the audacity of opacity: Can you believe the Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses?
In a classic Captain Obvious moment, the Associated Press points out that these hidden accounts “drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions.” You don’t say!
Hostility to transparency, of course, has been a hallmark of this administration from top to bottom. As I reported from the very first days of the Obama regime’s vampiric tenure:
–Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for years fought disclosure of massive donations from foreign governments and corporations who filled her husband’s library and foundation coffers.
–Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis failed to disclose that she was director and treasurer of a union-promoting lobbying group pushing legislation that she was co-sponsoring.
–Attorney General Eric Holder overruled his own lawyers in the Justice Department on the issue of D.C. voting rights (which he and Obama support) and refused to make public the staffers’ opinion that a House bill on the matter was unconstitutional. His stone wall of obstruction extends from the New Black Panther Party voting rights case to the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal to the Solyndra green boondoggle bankruptcy and Gitmo closure plans and conflicts of interests — all while touting a new “Open Plan for Government” from which he has conveniently exempted himself.
–Former No. 2 official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, former King County, Wash., Executive Ron Sims, had the distinction of being the most fined government official in his state’s history for suppressing public records from taxpayers.
–Former green czar Carol Browner infamously bullied auto execs to “put nothing in writing, ever.” She was singled out by the White House’s own oil spill panel for misleading the public about the scientific evidence for the administration’s draconian drilling moratorium. The Interior Department inspector general and federal courts blasted drilling-ban book-cooking by both Browner and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who falsely rewrote the White House drilling-ban report to doctor the Obama-appointed panel’s own overwhelming scientific objections to the job-killing edict, as a culture of contempt and “determined disregard” for the law.
Remember: While head of the Clinton administration’s EPA, Browner ordered a staffer to purge and delete her computer files to evade a public disclosure lawsuit. Lambasted by the judge for “contumacious” behavior and contempt of court, Browner claimed it was all an innocent mistake — and blamed her young son for downloading games on her work computer that she was trying to erase.
And in case you’d forgotten, Obama set the tone by breaking his transparency pledge with the very first bill he signed into law. In January 2009, the White House announced that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act had been posted online for review. Oopsy: Obama had already signed it — in violation of his “sunlight before signing” pledge to post legislation for public comment on the White House website five days before he sealed any deal.
In 2010, corporate lobbyists met hundreds of times with administration officials at Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, even on a side lawn — with the express purpose of circumventing the public’s right to know. The coffee loophole klatches were arranged by Team Obama members using, you guessed it, personal email accounts to communicate with the influence industry.
When Obama vowed that “transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” he didn’t mean “touchstones.” He meant sinkholes.
Now, when Mr. Sunshine touts his reveal-as-we-say-not-as-we-conceal record, I’ll welcome company from the Johnnies-come-lately of the White House press who see the truth and laugh out loud, rolling on the floor.
Michelle Malkin is the author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.