Newspaper article News Sentinel

Editorial: Presidential Libraries Should Disclose Sources of Private Donations

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Editorial: Presidential Libraries Should Disclose Sources of Private Donations

Article excerpt

Presidential libraries are a vitally important means of preserving the past. They help us understand what a leader brings to his presidency and the legacy he leaves the nation. The libraries keep the presidential papers, pictures, artifacts and all other material related not merely to a president's time in office but to his life. Without them, our history is weaker and our understanding of our shared past is poorer.

Therefore, U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. is absolutely correct in seeking to cast sunlight on the process of private fundraising for these important repositories of the nation's past.

His quest is not new. He introduced a bill 14 years ago stipulating that donations to presidential libraries be made public. His current bill requires disclosure of any donation greater than $200.

His first effort to get this legislation passed came after he learned that an organization raising money for President Bill Clinton's library had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Middle Eastern countries. This occurred while Clinton was in office.

Duncan, a Knoxville Republican, insists his effort is bipartisan, having introduced the legislation during the administrations of both Democratic and Republican presidents. In fact, the U.S. House has passed the measure three times, twice during the administration of President George W. Bush, but the legislation has never passed the Senate.

Presidential libraries are under the auspices of the National Archives and Records Administration. The documents in the libraries are open to the public for study and discussion, as the Archives website states, "without regard for political considerations and affiliations. …

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