When the Congressional Transparency Caucus was founded on May 10 2011, it published a mission statement that declared the beliefs of the caucus. Some excerpts:
Transparency in government is crucial to our democracy because our government derives its power from the informed consent of the governed. We believe:
1. The American people have the right to public access to all of their government’s information…
2. The American people have the right to analyze their government’s information…
3. The American people have the right to interactive access to federal laws, regulations, and rules…
You’d think, then, that the Congressional Transparency Caucus would oppose the existence of secret law. That’s right, secret law. For years, Senator Ron Wyden has been sounding the alarm: that classified FISA courts have been issuing legal opinions, creating new legal authority for the United States government to…
… to what? Senator Wyden couldn’t tell you. Perversely, he was forbidden by law to talk about these new secret laws because they were official state secrets. No member of the public was allowed to know what the new legal authorities were. It took the sacrificial efforts of whistleblower Edward Snowden to reveal that the new secret legal authorities involved the United States government collecting the data on every phone call, e-mail message, website visit and Facebook like engaged in by every law-abiding American, without our knowledge or our permission, in a manner expressly prohibited by the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The creation of secret law to enable a government to secretly collect data in a manner that contradicts the supreme public law of the land is about as un-transparent as you can get, standing not only in opposition to the Constitution but also to the mission of the Congressional Transparency Caucus. So you’d figure that members of the Congressional Transparency Caucus would be all over this.
You’d figure wrong. H.R. 2440 and H.R. 2475 are two bills introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives that, if passed, would require the secret legal opinions of the FISA court to be made available to the public, with classified secrets blacked out. That way, the American people would at least be able to know what new powers the government has assumed for itself. That way, the American people would be able to decide whether they approved of these laws or not. That’s the idea at the very heart of transparency. (It’s also, as Thomas Jefferson pointed out, the idea at the very heart of democracy).
Who among the 23 members of the Transparency Caucus has signed on in support of either H.R. 2440 or H.R. 2475 through the traditional act of cosponsorship? Only 3 members:
And here are the members of the Transparency Caucus who, by sitting on their hands, are enabling government secrecy and unaccountability:
Members of the Congressional Transparency Caucus who HAVE NOT cosponsored either H.R. 2440 or H.R. 2475:
Bruce Braley (D-IA)
Cheri Bustos (D-IL)
Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
Eleanor Holmes-Norton (delegate-DC)
Steve Israel (D-NY)
Jim Jordan (R-OH)
David Loebsack (D-IA)
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
Dan Lipinksi (D-IL)
Pat McHenry (R-NC)
Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)
Dave Reichert (R-WA)
Tim Ryan (D-OH)
Aaron Schock (R-IL)
Lee Terry (R-NE)
Greg Walden (R-OR)
As you can see, the failure within the Transparency Caucus to actually support transparency is bipartisan. If you spot your member of Congress in the list of passive inactivity, click on the link associated with her or his name. You’ll find contact information — give your representative what for.