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Unity08 Negotiates Agreement to Keep Embarrassing Lawsuit Details Confidential

Unity08 is a corporation with a plan to elect its own president, with either a vice president or a cabinet member of a different party (a standard already met by the Clinton and Bush administrations). Although it promised publicly that it would only take “small donations” from “people like you,” it is currently suing the Federal Elections Commission in DC District Court to win the ability to take donations and loans of unlimited size, because it says it cannot win unless it does.

I found this out and was able to share it with you because I could use the nation’s PACER database to obtain and read Unity08’s lawsuit filing — in which its arguments to a judge are often precisely opposite to its prior public appeals. This kind of public access to political documents is called “sunshine,” and has been shown over and over again to be essential to the battle against corruption and back-room dealing.

But now the sunshine is being shuttered away from Unity08’s lawsuit.

Unity08’s lawyers — who are registered Washington DC lobbyists, and who Unity08 has curiously not paid to date — have negotiated with the Federal Election Commission’s lawyers to reach agreement on a confidentiality agreement. On March 2, 2007 — the Friday designated for all news that should die — Unity08 and the FEC filed a joint motion they call a “Protective Order.” A protective order? Who are they trying to protect? The American people? Freedom of information? No, they’ve agreed to protect Unity08 from you. Under this “Protective Order,” Unity08 will be able to stamp “confidential” any information in this lawsuit that meets one of three standards:

A producing party may designate as confidential any information subject to protection
produced by it which the producing party believes in good faith contains information in one or
more of the following categories:

(a) strategic planning information;

(b) identifying information concerning individuals contacted by Unity08 or others acting on its behalf who have declined to contribute

(c) other information, similar in nature to that described in (a)-(b) above which is not generally available to persons not having an employment or contractual relationship with the producing party, the disclosure of which to competing political groups could harm the ability of the producing party to achieve its political goals and objectives.

In other words, Unity08 will be able to stamp “confidential” any information that it thinks could could be embarrassing and so hurt its efforts.

Oh, and when will you get to see this information? Ever? No, never. Any information Unity08 considers embarrassing will be kept confidential in perpituity (see page 5). That’s lawyerese for forever.

You know, Unity08 calls itself a “people’s movement” and a “grassroots organization.” It says it wants to end the era of shady deals behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms. But look at what Unity08 does, not what it says. Watch as Unity08 steps into the smoke-filled room and smiles as it closes the door.

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