Magazine article Politics Magazine

Less Transparent Exec Branch?

Magazine article Politics Magazine

Less Transparent Exec Branch?

Article excerpt

Q: Should the legislative and executive branches of government (state or national) be equally transparent, or is there a case to be made that the executive branch should be more protected?

A: Democratic government must be transparent--meaning that information is accessible and understandable, and processes are open, regular and known--to support public scrutiny, accountability and meaningful public participation. Prudence dictates that some matters such as national security are best kept secret. Ironically, it is only through public discussion, public decision and public accountability that secrecy is tolerable in a democracy. As a result, the circumstances permitting a breach of transparency--and its duration--are best set out in law. Any branch's or individual official's claim of authority to make unilateral decisions about secrecy is simply invalid, whatever the reason. Therefore, whether the legislative or executive branch should be held to the same standard of transparency is a matter for statute. Because circumstances are dynamic, the statute should include a sunset clause to force revisiting the issue.

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Q: Despite how commonplace it's become, is it ethical for members of Congress on financial committees--who weigh such things as bailouts--to receive contributions and favors from mortgage companies and banks? …

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